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- From Fat Mona Lisa To Abu Ghraib: Fernando Botero’s Famous Paintings
Fernando Botero Dancing in Colombia
Frequently misunderstood, Fernando Botero's works are misconceived as being kitsch and humorous. Undoubtedly full of affection and mirth for his subjects, many of Botero's canvases are in fact disquieting critiques on the excesses of art, and the bloated world of post-colonial South America. Taking a cue from the flat spatial pane of pre-Colombian religious painting and the images of indigenous identities that have proliferated throughout many South American nations as they gradually rediscover their pre-Colonial identities, Botero's 'fat' figures rediscover a way of seeing alternate to the Western method of fixed-point perspective. The artist's figures are known to be in real life, they do not gain intelligibility from how real they seem to the privileged place of the viewer. Charismatic and confident in their dimensionality, Botero's work remembers the public expressions of Mural art. Ball in Colombia seizes upon familiar themes and tropes in Western painting and injects therein oversized people, full to the brim with life and expression, to such an extent that their bodies physically crowd the space of the frame.
In Ball in Colombia there is both literally and figuratively no remaining space to inhabit, as if the party is now closed to any further guests. This is not, as if often asserted, a coquettish world of the obese. Botero's world is perfectly sized for it's inhabitants. It is everything that is larger-than-life. The furniture, the instruments, the clothing, all are perfectly shaped for it's wearers and sitters; it is the viewer's perception that is warped. This common theme that pervades the artist's works is used in a wide manner of ways; in some ways to reflect joy and vigour, the other to represent greed or alienation. Unquestionably size for Botero is a dominant theme in his society. It points to ideas of self-image, folklore, and displacement.
Reportedly, during Botero's training as an artist he had a realization that triggered his continued use of over-sized figures and objects. When creating a number of studies of a mandolin, he drew the instrument with divergent and impossibly bloated features. Stopping to imagine the sound of the thing he drew, he realized that the tones sounded fresh in his mind, and understood the boundless possibilities of this technique. One can see Ball in Colombia as an extension of that first experimentation; this time the orchestra is there to accompany not just one instrument but many, creating an image of unity and experimentation.
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