March 01, 2012
If homesick for Colombian art, try to catch two very global exhibitions this month
By María Cristina Pignalosa
If homesick for Colombian art, try to catch two very global exhibitions this month.
Many Colombian artists transcend territorial boundaries due to their creativity and exceptional works. On the eve of his 80th birthday, Fernando Botero exhibits a monumental retrospective at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Artist Fanny Sanín shows an important selection of her drawings this month at the Frederico Séve Gallery in New York.
Fernando Botero is considered one of the world’s most outstanding modern artists. His work embodies the Latin American soul and reflects an unusual synthesis of the unique characteristics of Europe and South America. To celebrate his life and work, Mexico City’s Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes presents Fernando Botero: A Celebration; the largest retrospective of his work ever exhibited, that includes examples of the most important themes of his artistic career.
It covers 63 years of dedicated artistic and creative labor, carried out under the curatorship of his daughter, Lina Botero. The exhibit brings together 183 paintings and drawings, as well as five monumental bronze sculptures that will be exhibited in front of the museum. The show marks 61 years since Botero first exhibited in 1951.
The show begins by presenting some of his most important early works, which depict his search for visual language and style. The rooms, which follow show themes Botero is more identified with: such as his native Colombia, the country of his childhood and adolescence. A different space is dedicated to his religious work and another room dedicated to his drawings and mixed-media creations. A separate area shows the artist’s Abu Ghraib series while another one focuses on circus life. A special place is dedicated to bullfights, one of his passions, while others are dedicated to his still life paintings and his particular interest in paintings in the style of the Old Masters.
Botero’s success is due in part to his unique artistic language of full and abundant forms, without shadows and textures that emphasize volume.
His ability to simultaneously get involved with relevant aspects of art history and Colombian culture is outstanding, as is his ability to portray these aspects with both humor and irony. Another very important aspect of his work that interests many art critics and historians is its ability to be understood by everyone, of any race and in any country or continent, without explanations of any kind.
It may be his enduring ‘colombianism’ and Fernando Botero’s creative force, as Colombian artist and essayist Juan Gustavo Cobo Borda describes it, that enables Botero to seduce crowds.
Or, it is his expressive versatility, his profound love for the history of art, his enormous generosity of spirit, his permanent and ever-present ties with his land of origin and the strength of his figurative images that acquire their own meanings that allows both experts and common spectators to be consistently interested and focused on his work – whether it is his next undertaking or his latest pictorial creation.
Botero does not only produce narrative scenes or representations; his works have the strength of vision of a European and Latin identity. These identities are coupled with a unique style that draws on folk elements and the work of great masters, all with his unique, sophisticated, creative, humorous and wise way.
Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Ciudad de México D.F.
Fanny Sanín in 100 works
Colombian-born artist Fanny Sanín says, “My language is that of pure abstraction devoid of any allusion to external reality… I am the result of a confrontation of cultures expressed through my individual personality and inner world.” She is currently exhibiting Drawings and Studies 1960 to Now, a retrospective of her works on paper at Frederico Sève Gallery in New York. The exhibit runs until April 25th.
Although the artist is well known internationally for her symmetrical, geometric abstract paintings in oil and acrylic on canvas, this exhibition of drawings provides an important insight into her creative process. The artist confirms this importance, explaining, “Drawings are the first and most important part of my creation…I use them to plan and reach the image that I would finally love to paint on canvas. Color and structure go hand-in-hand in my work. It isn’t until they are both worked out in detail in my drawings that they can have meaning.”
The exhibition was organized by New York independent art curator and writer Patterson Sims, and has an accompanying publication that includes images of the nearly 100 works that will be on view. The publication features an interview with the artist and text and commentaries by Sims.
As the curator explains, “Surveying her hundreds of drawings provides compelling evidence of Sanín’s protracted, methodical process and the deep meditation inherent to her art. Sanín’s sets of preparatory drawings explicate the meticulously deliberated and refined origins of each of her forceful, iconic canvases and larger works on paper. Even in the Abstract Expressionist beginnings of her mature art, Sanín’s spontaneity was well thought through.”
Fanny Sanín was born in Bogotá, Colombia, where she graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the Universidad de Los Andes. She has studied and worked internationally since the 1960’s in Europe, Mexico and the United States. She has lived in New York City, where she maintains her studio, since 1971.
Her work has been displayed in more than forty solo exhibitions, and in more than 300 group shows throughout the world. More than 40 major museums own Sanín’s work, including the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris; the Warsaw Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Art of the Banco de la República in Bogotá; the New York Public Library, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., among others. More than 50 books have been published presenting or discussing her work, in addition to numerous reviews and articles.
Frederico Sève Gallery
37 W 57th Street, 4th floor