FERNANDO BOTERO X DRAG QUEENS
Why this connection?
Botero, the Rebel
& Other Rebels
Botero’s holy trinity is certainly not that of a practitioner; being that he often uses volume and monumentality. Fernando Botero is a figurative artist and sculptor originating from Colombia. “Everything I paint is possible”, says the artist—affirming the fact that magical realism is not his style.
The most interesting thing regarding his art is his use of volume in his paintings. He began developing his brand stylistically when he discovered that if he compressed the circle of an instrument, the volume of an instrument grew. Since that moment, any form of art that had minimal detail allowed him to work a space that became bulky, sensual, and complex. This was the start of his unique artistic voice.
Though his language is true to his brand, what makes Botero a true rebel?
Not all critics of Botero are his fans, with many lambasting his work as something that lacks depth. Charmaine Picard from Arts in America once said, Botero’s work is “blasted by detractors as simplistic caricatures of fleshy forms in sunny familial scenes.” Regardless of this, the critics in contemporary art would have never posed too much of a threat (or problem) to Botero. In fact, he’s pretty accepting of his rejection from others, perhaps even embracing it, stating in an ARTnews interview that “some people love my work, some others hate it. You can’t be liked by everybody. I represent the opposition of what is happening in art today.”
He’s a clear-cut example of how to deal with harsh critics—those that condemn the simplicity of his work, who oppose his satirical figures to severe subjects, and those who still question his artistic talents. Fernando Botero’s loud, strong message to the world is about resisting constant discrediting and remaining firm in your own personal thinking, beyond all recognition.
Botero’s place in art is well-deserved; not because of his apparent and noticeable passion for art, but because he has managed to stay true to his aesthetics, his artistic values, and his authenticity. His dedication to who he is, his craft, and his morals reminds us to remain true to who we are; our ideals and our unique character that sets us apart from the rest of the world.
Over the years, Botero’s thinking has transferred onto other rebels, in different parts of the world, and in different times in history. His way of thinking is connected to the movements, led by groups of “rebels”, who have expressed their voice by being activists, fighting for their rights and the rights of others. A great example would be the LGBTQ+ movement, more specifically: Drag Queens.
The world is constantly evolving and changing for the better (or so we hope), but when it comes to Drag Queens, like Botero, they are all about individuality, celebrating what makes us unique, and being fabulous while doing it. Drag Queens teach us that there is so much value to the parts of us that we've been told are not “normal”, or “don’t fit a mold”. With Queens, we are taught about the art of not conforming to another person’s expectations, and that self-expression is what makes life fun, magical, and possible. The power of these self-assured, highly-skilled Drag Queens is that their ideology confronts the notion that humans should hide. Instead, be loud, be proud, and be yourself.
Of course, we cannot exactly prove that Botero has had a direct influence in the Drag community, but certainly the legacy of these two schools of thought correlate in the same morals toward the world. Art, in all its forms, is important throughout all of history. It brings awareness to a matter, with reflections upon the subject; it makes the invisible visible. As Fernando Botero once so eloquently put: “art should be an oasis, a place of refuge from the hardness of life.”