Power is everywhere – Yosman Botero

The creative universe of Yosman Botero can be defined as a space built of doors and mirrors, where everything is reflected and confronted with the objective of mapping, revealing and questioning power relationships.

Influenced by multiple references originating from history, literature, documentaries and art, Yosman has assembled an archive rich in mixtures that he uses at the time of creation. Standing out is his ability to detect signs and symbols and to elaborate narratives out of them that, in a visual and conceptual dimension, question the tensions both ideological and institutional as well that of the economic system in a society that bears decades of repression and brutality, articulating a essentially political work.

Yosman develops a creative process in which he first locates a colonizing act, and then determines the exploitation exercise to which it corresponds. His work criticizes the inappropriate use of natural resources through mining, the manipulation of information by the powers that be, and the unbridled cravings for enrichment. At this point, much of his work arises from the need to visualize the void, to generate resilience processes in the spectator. There is a marked interest in architecture and landscape that acquires a dimension as a social territory. Thus, his method of work could be defined as the study of the ecology of war, where he expresses an interest in those landscapes that during war conflicts only acquire value insofar as these may be a resource for the enemy.

The theoretical references of Yosman’s work are multiple. Among them the American writer, philosopher, film director and photographer Susan Sontag who in her books reflects on the meaning of her art. “That a bloody battle landscape could be beautiful – in the sublime, astonishing or tragic record of beauty – is a common place of the war scene images made by artists. The idea does not fit well when applied to the images taken by cameras: finding beauty in war scene photographs seems cruel. But the landscape of devastation remains a landscape. In the ruins there is beauty.”1


Consequently, one of Yosman’s main lines of work has been the armed conflict in Colombia. His work has a self-referential component, since the artist identifies himself in the first place as Colombian and, secondly, as originally from Cúcuta, a city that marks the border with Venezuela. This border, one of the most conflictive in Latin America, has been a nerve center of violence in Colombia.

Social phenomena such as migration has affected his work, not only because of his own status as a migrant, but because the huge masses of displaced people who travel the world face him, in two ways, with the internal reality of his country where society, consciously or unconsciously has made a «normalization of violence». Thus, from his perspective, this reality is turned into a game of mirrors in which is reflected what he sees from outside.

Yosman currently lives in Barcelona and claims to be contaminated by his origin. He considers, in the words of José Roca, that the best way to be global is to be deeply local2, and, in that sense, his work has been projecting as a reference of political art not only in Colombia, but also in other parts of the world.

Yosman highlights censorship, euphemism and fake news as some of the mechanisms preferred by the powerful to manipulate society. Thus, good appears as bad, and bad takes the face of good.

In 1837, Hans Christian Andersen published The Emperor’s New Costume, a story that through time has become iconic and where the voice of a child reveals that the king is naked. In the work of Yosman those that are naked are the people that cheer the Emperor. Here, a mirror image gives a new meaning to this story. Here the powerful wear gold robes and the dispossessed of the world, without education and without convictions, acclaim them, elect them, and forget that power is everywhere: in their vote. The mirror becomes denial, disrupting reality. Here the boy who shouts the truth is the artist.

In Colombia there are paradoxes that hurt: the end of the confrontation with the FARC, in 2016, for example, allowed large mining companies to access territories that were previously forbidden, with the consequent destruction of the environment.

In the work of Yosman these relations manifest themselves as a set of mimesis, where something is hidden to show something else, and vice versa, joining antagonistic principles that complement each other by virtue of an artistic proposal and acquire new senses. This objective is achieved through the resignification of the objects and materials he uses, the same ones he has studied for years, such as the box, the desk, the mirror, the door, the sand, the graphite, the paint, and paper, among others.

Under the slogan that a work must always be well made, his work is characterized by the precision and cleanliness of each piece. Yosman is an academic artist, devoted to technique and research. Hereby his work brings together series and projects in which he uses multiple techniques such as drawing, painting, installation, sculpture and video. Thus, by art, Yosman Botero proposes ways out of violence and questions power relationships.

  1. SONTAG SUSAN. Regarding the pain of the others. De Bolsillo, 2010.P. 68.
  2. NOVA MARTIN. Conversations with the ghost. Editorial Planeta, 2017.



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