MADRID - Colombia's Fernando Botero, whose paintings and sculptures of plump women have won him recognition as one of Latin America's most famous living artists, says he is "not obsessed" with fat women.
The 81-year-old insisted in an interview published on Sunday that his bulky subjects are not fat, preferring instead to call them "volumetric." "I don't paint fat women. Nobody believes me but it is true. What I paint are volumes. When I paint a still life I also paint with volume, if I paint an animal it is volumetric, a landscape as well," he told daily Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
"I am interested in volume, the sensuality of form. If I paint a woman, a man, a dog or a horse, I always do with this idea of the volume, it is not that I have an obsession with fat women," he added.
Asked if he was attracted to "fat women", Botero said: "No, no, not at all. I have been attached to three women, all of them skinny." Botero said his wife, Greek artist Sophia Vari, weights just 55 kilos (121 pounds).
He had three children with his first wife, former Colombian culture minister Gloria Zea, and had a son with his second wife, Cecilia Zambrano.
The interview also touched on his narrow escape from a fire that broke out in his holiday home in the province of Antioquia in northwestern Colombia while he was staying there with friends in January.
Botero said he is lucky to be alive: "I woke up and we managed to get out, in the dark, without any light, with everything full of smoke and almost asphyxiated but we managed it.
"It was terrible, 80 per cent of the house burned down. It is a miracle I am alive," he told the newspaper.
One of the world's most sought-after contemporary artists, Botero has works on display in museums and parks around the world.
He divides his time between Monaco, New York, Greece, Italy and Colombia.