A Botero Sculpture in Our Own Backyard
Fernando Botero is one of the most important artists in Latin America, perhaps best recognized for his bronze sculptures and painting of plump people, animals, and other figures. To celebrate his 80th birthday this spring, the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City held a major exhibition of 177 pieces representing various periods of his career. In June, shortly after the close of the show, one of its large-scale sculptures, “The Horse,” was installed in the city of Puebla. It’s on display indefinitely at El Triangulo mall at the corner of Circuito Juan Pablo II and Boulevard Atlixco in Colonia Las Animas.
A sculptor, painter, muralist, and illustrator, Botero was born in Medellin, Colombia, in 1932 and has been part of the world art scene for more than 45 years. Botero typically represents universal themes in a figurative way: His work is widely recognized by its exaggerated and disproportionate volumes. Just as Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens idealized female beauty as a full-figured woman during the Baroque period, which gave rise to the term “Rubenesque,” the women known as “Las Gordas de Botero” (Botero’s Fat Ladies), as they are affectionately called in Spanish, are the maximum expression of “Boterismo.”
“Boterismo” is tough to classify, but it’s generally considered to be part of the Naïve movement, due to the artist’s simple technique and the use of many colors (in his paintings). However, one of the characteristics of Naïve Art — the impression of simplicity — cannot be applied to Botero, because some of his works deal with contemporary or painful issues, such as politics, death, and personal vices, albeit in a satirical and ironic way. For a long time, the Naïve style was considered childish and was not recognized as art, but more recently artists like Botero, Henri Rousseau, Grandma Moses, and Alfred Wallis have become appreciated for their refreshing worldviews.
Today, Fernando Botero has a major influence and presence in Mexico. In addition to “The Horse” sculpture on display in Puebla, other works can be seen at the Museo Soumaya in Mexico City and the Esplanade of Heroes in Monterrey.
This is not the first time a large public art sculpture has toured Puebla: A dozen larger-than-life works by beloved and celebrated Mexican artist Juan Soriano, adorned the zócalo as part of a national tour of his work in 2006; he died that same year. Meanwhile, permanent monumental sculptures include “El Hombre Azul,” by Bolivian artist (and Puebla resident) José Miguel Bayro in Paseo de San Francisco, and “The Guardian Angel,” by Mexican artist Sebastián, which since its installation in 2003 has become a landmark of the city.
El Triangulo, located at 35 Poniente #3515 in Colonia Las Animas, is open from seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. To get there from downtown, take bus route 72-A on Boulevard 5 de Mayo (from the Cathedral side of the street, or opposite the Convention Center).