His FatHer’s son
He may not be an artist, but Fernando Botero Jnr is making great strides as an art advocate who tirelessly promotes the work of his famous father, Colombian artist Fernando Botero
n many cases, the children of famous artists usually follow a similar career path to that of their parents. This is not the case with Fernando Botero Jnr, who opted for a career totally at odds with that of his father, renowned Colombian situational portraitist and sculptor Fernando Botero. The eldest of the artist’s three children with his first wife Gloria Zea, the younger Botero was born in Mexico in 1956. Not being particularly gifted in the arts, he chose to enter government service, having earned a Political Science degree from the University of the Andes in Colombia.
His first political stint was as private secretary to Alfonso Lopez Michelsen, president at the time of the Colombian Liberal Party. He was elected senator twice and finished his political career by becoming Minister of Defence during the term of President Ernesto Semper.
Since his retirement from politics, Botero has become a staunch art advocate who actively promotes his father’s work beyond Latin America. In 2015, he became co-director of the landmark Botero in China initiative which has brought the artist’s work to art aficionados in Asia. He currently has plans of holding lectures and exhibitions in the Philippines.
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boteroinchina.cn Many artists’ children follow in their parents’ footsteps. You seem to have deviated from the norm.
Actually, I never had any artistic talent; I’m sorry to say none at all! I never considered the possibility of a career in art. But, recently, [I have been drawn into art advocacy] as I have become very involved in the work of my father due to the
What was it like growing up with a famous artist for a parent?
It was extremely fascinating because my father is absolutely passionate about art and culture. Some fathers would encourage you to play football or some other sport; but mine encouraged us to go to museums or to watch movies, particularly from the Neo-classicistic era of Italian cinema or the films of the great It’s been an amazing experience that started around eight or nine years ago when we realised that Botero, at the pinnacle of his career, had exhibited all over the world with the exception of one key area: China. That’s when the
project began. It was a difficult process, but we were able to achieve something extremely important in the world of art: to hold the exhibition of the Colombian master’s work in the National Museum of China in Beijing, the China Art Museum in Shanghai, and the Central Waterfront Area in Hong Kong—the three major cities of China. It was an exhibition that was truly amazing in the sense that we had 1.5 million visitors—numbers that are not normally associated with the world of art. That was encouraging as to further possibilities in Asia. That’s the reason why I now spend a large part of my time in the region.
directors of our time like Fellini and Bergmann. Growing up with him involved the constant use of culture as a way to expand the mind and broaden our horizons. You are bringing your father’s work to Asia, a region that is rapidly becoming a centre for art. How has this been for you?