PIETRASANTA, Italy - Agence France-Presse
Sculptures by Colombian artist Fernando Botero are displayed in a square of Pietrasanta in Tuscany, prior to the opening of his exhibition on July 6. AFP photo
Colombian artist Fernando Botero celebrates his 80th birthday in the Tuscany’s sculpture centre, Pietrasanta, with a new exhibition of statues, including huge cats, horses and large women.
“I feel at home here, the mountains and flowers make me think of Antioch [in Colombia],” Botero told Agene France-Presse during an interview in the medieval Saint Augustine church, where six of his sculptures and 40 drawings and watercolors from the 1970s are on show.
In the cathedral square of the dusty town, which has been home to master artisans for centuries,
six of his giant sculptures tower over visitors.
The exhibition of 80 works looks back over Botero’s career and pays homage to his mix of Columbian and European styles in paintings and sculptures that are always united by their proportionally exaggerated figures, a trademark of Botero.
“My paintings have nothing of ‘magic realism’ about them, no-one floats in space or is chased by yellow butterflies. It’s an improbable style, but not impossible,” said Botero, whose works capture the world with a humorous slant. “I work eight to 10 hours a day, every day, without listening to music because it disturbs me,” said the Colombian, who has lived in a house perched on a hill in Pietrasanta for two months a year for the past 38 years.
Celebrating his “first 80 springs,” the artist emphasized how important contributions from other artisans have been in creating his famed sculptures.“Painting is a solitary job, while sculpture is a collective effort because you work in a team. One makes the mould, one chisels, one polishes,” he said. In his youth, Botero studied the works of the Renaissance masters in Florence, and his Tuscan house is near the Carrara marble quarries where Italy’s Michelangelo sourced the prized stone for his polished masterpieces.
“This is just as important exhibition for me as those hosted in Rome and Milan,” he said. The works -- taken from his private collection — feature oversized people, bulls, horses, Madonnas and countryside scenes, among others. The exhibition will run until Sept. 2.