The farewell to Botero, magical irrealism and the discovery of pain


By John

The painter Fernando Botero had transformed the world: he did not paint fat figures (yes, I reassure you: in this context one can write and even pronounce this word which has become, for very serious reasons, embarrassing and uncomfortable), but luminous figures, with a special, expanded levity, a carnal but immaterial presence . An art nourished by academia, study and observation of the body in great painting, from the body-temple of the Renaissance to the body-scream of Cubism. To arrive at a kind of collective fairy tale, of magical overweight (ah, these Colombians, what did they do to our imagination in the twentieth century!).
The infinite cycles of dancers are so luminous, happy and immaterial: tango dancers whose vortex of movement and transformative power, but also the social content, of the dance are precisely captured; classic ballet flats with real feathers on the toes. And after families, dancers and couples, after inventing his “magical irrerealism” – all backgrounds of color and expansive and gentle volumes – Botero went so far as to depict the torment of the Via Crucis, the torture in Abu Ghraib prison: the body is no longer a prodigy of the immaterial, but a Mystery that becomes flesh and blood, or the target of Evil that lacerates, wounds, bleeds.
He had lived for a while in Italy: in our country his works have always been extraordinarily loved and understood, even by the most “naive” public (and this was a fault for some…). Adiós Fernando, who knows how light they fly, your wonderfully fat angels.