Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero said at the conclusion of a months-long series of events to mark his 80th birthday that he spent 15 years of his career striving to achieve a "radical, distinct and original" style.

"One's style must be unmistakable ... (an artist) without a style doesn't exist," Botero said. "One must have a radical, affirmative and even sectarian viewpoint, but always distinct. That's where the recognition comes from."

One must have a radical, affirmative and even sectarian viewpoint, but always distinct. That's where the recognition comes from

- Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero

The artist, who turned 80 last April 19, made his remarks during a presentation of books written about him by historian Santiago Londoño and artist Christian Padilla.

He acknowledged his personal quest to find himself and the unique style that established him as one of Latin America's greatest 20th-century artists.

"I began painting in 1946 and it wasn't until 1964 that I painted a picture I felt was mature and coherent. Many years went by before I had a clear vision of what I wanted to do," Botero said.

Art is the result of a process of reflection in which the artist allows himself be guided by his points of reference, Botero said, though he added that only by swimming "against the current" did he achieve "an originality and a personality recognizable by all."

Botero said his preference for exaggerated and disproportionate volume (he dislikes the use of the word "fat" to describe his subjects) in his sculptures and paintings is a product of his self-study of classic Greek and Renaissance works and even of pre-Columbian art. 

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