Botero Viacrucis Paintings in Medellin

Medellin, Colombia.- The Muséo de Antioquia is proud to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Medellin-born and resident Fernando Botero by presenting "Viacrucis: La Passion de Cristo" on view through August 8th. Latin art collectors of Art Kabinett social network are already planning to visit this exciting exhibition.

Viacrucis —a Latin word meaning “the path of the Cross”— comprises 27 large-format oil paintings and 33 drawings.

On display in this show are Botero’s careful study of and deep love for the Italian primitives of the first half of the Fifteenth Century and for the artists of the Renaissance.

Many artists painted the passion of Christ in scenes that included medieval fortresses and hill-dotted landscapes; now Botero approaches the subject in contexts that incorporate Manhattan or small Antioquia towns.

One of the largest works in the show is a Pieta measuring 93 x 58” while a Descent of the Cross measures 90 by 50”. Smaller works measuring 20 x 20” lose no power from their size and are made all the more touching by their very intimacy.

The hallmark of all the paintings regardless of size and subject is Botero’s stunning use of color that charges the works with both seductive beauty and elemental impact. Just as in his paintings of the Abu Ghraib prison, these works depicting Christ’s Passion are intense and powerful not only because of the events depicted but also because of Botero’s ability to convey pathos and emotion.

Botero can be humorous and whimsical as some of his paintings over the years reveal, but he can also turn his considerable talents to portray tragic events as the paintings in this show effectively demonstrated.

All his life, this artist has been an avid observer of old master paintings and to this day he is a constant museum goer. His work has often been infused with various references to the masters either by subject such as his take on van Eyck’s The Marriage of Arnolfini or by subtle references to structure and technique.

What becomes immediately clear in the Via Crucis exhibition is Botero’s long study and great love of the early Italian primitives of the first half of the fifteenth century as well as the early northern Renaissance painters. What those painters strove to achieve was a way to express naturalism of human form and to create a means to convey in regard to the story of Christ the great emotion and feeling of the event.

Botero has in his inimitable, elegant style taken up this heroic and exalted subject and in a unique manner has, while remaining faithful to the events of the story, transformed it. In so doing he has achieved one of the most commanding cycles of works he has painted to date.

Through a singular vision of the expression of human emotion and spirit these works are destined to be a high water mark of the artist’s entire career.

Just as the old master painters used places and people of their time to depict the Passion, Botero uses places and events of our time to portray The Way of the Cross.

To give just a few examples, the background setting in one depiction of Christ’s crucifixion is Manhattan; in the flogging of Christ, instead of Roman soldiers we see Colombian soldiers; in The Kiss of Judas, shown here, we see a small figure in the left hand corner which is a self-portrait, and in Ecce Homo Pontius Pilate is represented by an accusatory finger and the village is a town in Botero’s home state of Antioquia in Colombia.