Angel Botello (1913-1986)

Angel Botello (1913-1986). Dancers, c.1960. Oil on wood panel measures 15.5 x 36 inches; 21.5 x 42 inches in original frame. Painting is from the series Bailes. Excellent condition with no damage or restoration. Signed lower right.



Angel Botello was born on June 20, 1913 in the Villa de Cangas de Morrazo, a small picturesque fishing village situated on the peninsula of Morrazo in Galicia, the northwestern region of Spain. Angel was one of six children (two boys and four girls) of Angel Botello Suarez, a businessman in the fish canning industry, and his wife Bonis Barros del Amo, who at this writing is alive in her 102nd year.

Encouraged by his mother, who had been born and bred on her family’s farm high in the mountains of Galicia, Angel studied for two years at the Ecole d’Agriculture of Limou, intending to become an agronomist.

When Angel first saw his brother’s work in architecture, he became keenly interested in the arts, so much so the he decided to abandon agriculture and devote himself to architecture. In 1930 he enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux Arts where he studied until 1934. His teacher of drawing and painting was Professor Francois Maurice Roganeaux, a well-known artist who had been awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome.

Angel excelled not only in drawing and painting, but also received the first prize for modeling in each of the four years he attended the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Moreover, while still a student, he exhibited his paintings twice, first at the Societe des Amix des Arts of Bordeaux in 1933, and later in Perigeux, a small town near Bordeaux, in 1934.

In 1935 Angel returned to Spain. The Ecole des Beaux Arts of Bordeaux had solicited, through the Spanish Consulate in that city, a grant for a scholarship to finance Angel’s studies at the Acaddemia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid.

Unfortunately, Angel’s studies in Madrid, together with all his other plans for the future, were abruptly interrupted by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War on July 18, 1936. Angel was conscripted and served for three years in the Republic Army, directing a cartography unit attached the headquarters of General Lister on the front lines. His brother, Manuel, was tragically killed on the battlefield.

The Voyage of the Botellos, like those of thousands of other fellow refugees, was sponsored by the Republican Committee in Exile, a branch of the exiled Government of the Spanish Republic, which intended to settle them ultimately in Mexico. The Dominican Republic was their initial destination, however, since that country was the first to open its doors to all refugees of the cvil war. It was, therefore, due to the vagaries of international politics that Angel Botello Barros set sail in 1940 on a journey to the Greater Antilles, islands that he would never leave.

In 1941 Botello visited Haiti in the company of a good friend and collector of his works, Gonzalo de Ulloa, Peruvian charge d’affaires in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In Haiti, more than in the Dominican Republic, Botello discovered a land that closely approximated those of his childhood dreams. Indeed, as a boy in Vigo, watching the ships sail off to faraway seas, Angel had dreamed of running on the warm sands of tropical beaches. He once confessed to art critic E.W. Palm that, as a young man, instead of wishing to go to Italy or Paris, the usual destinations for aspiring artists, he had longed for the tropics. Deeply impressed by what he saw in Haiti he vowed to return as soon as possible. Haiti was to leave an indelible mark on him and would exert a decisive influence on his personal life.

“Angel Botello Barros died on November 11,1986. His life was punctuated by a series of departures for new lands. he always dreamed of remote places filled with magic, mystery and beauty. Each of his islands offered him the opportunity to gain strength, inspiration and maturity, and he left at each harbor his own vision of reality that he was ready to share with all. Angel has not left us. He has departed, simply, for another of his islands, from which he will continue to serve as an inspiration for us all.”  Maud Duquella (Book: Galeria Botello, San Juan, PUERTO RICO by Publishing Resources INC.