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    Fernando Botero expondrá en Bogotá la próxima semana / Gonzalo Arango
    El Colombiano  (Medellín, Colombia). -- May. 8, 1955
    p. 4 : ill.
    Journal article – Interviews
    Arango, Gonzalo. “Fernando Botero expondrá en Bogotá la próxima semana.” El Colombiano (Medellín, Colombia), May  8, 1955, 4.


The writer Gonzalo Arango Arias interviews Fernando Botero, and includes literary remarks about the painter and the Colombian city of Medellín. He weaves in references to Botero’s experience in Europe, stressing “the poverty he endured and his struggle for survival.” He also mentions Botero’s return to Colombia and his “rediscovery of the freedom of the natural world in America.” As he enters Botero’s studio, the journalist describes how the artist’s work has evolved since prior to his trip to Italy, and mentions “the desire to exaggerate to an almost monstrous degree,” also referencing the influence of Picasso. For his part, Botero refers to his “Expressionist-inspired destructive romanticism of forms” and explains that the works he will exhibit in Bogotá will show how all that has changed. This change, he says, was inspired by careful study in European museums that house “the only true and silent definition of art.” The two men discuss Colombian painting and avant-garde artists. Botero says, “I believe that the only solution for an American painter is to produce work that is eminently American,” referring to examples such as Mexican mural painting. He deplores the lack of opportunity in Colombia and claims that mural painting is the most appreciated art form of the country.


The poet Gonzalo Arango Arias interviewed Fernando Botero (b. 1932) in 1955 on the latter’s return to Colombia after a two-year stay in Europe, as he prepared to exhibit the works he had produced while he was away. Arango Arias expressed no doubt that Botero’s show would be a success. 


But the exhibition was in fact a colossal failure in terms of both sales and critical response. Those who had once applauded Botero’s budding talent were now disappointed in the change of direction they saw in his work, which had been influenced by Cubism. Shortly thereafter, Botero went to Mexico, hoping to expose the Italian Renaissance he had absorbed in Europe to his American roots and muralism. Instead, he discovered the rich colors of Mexican handicrafts and the work of Rufino Tamayo (1899–1991), important elements that he worked into his hybrid approach that drew from many different influences?including Diego Rivera?as his painting style developed.


Arango Arias was the founder of the movement known as “Nadaísmo” [Nothing-ism], whose first manifesto was published in 1958 in the Colombian city of Medellín. Nadaísmo’s goal was to break with Colombian literary tradition, and its members took an irreverent, countercultural approach to religion, the Academy, and power.

Santiago Londoño Vélez
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Jose Mario Arbelaez, Bogotá, Colombia
Reproduced with permission of El Colombiano, Medellín, Colombia