Prayer before confronting the bull.
Alone with God and my truth, 2014.
Oil on wood
180 x 127 cm
One of the two great icons of Spanish culture is the Art of Bullfighting. The point of this work is to witness one of the most human aspects of the artistic figure of the bullfighter, much discussed and controversial at present.
I grew up glimpsing the aromas, lights and sounds of a beautiful city in the south of Spain, Seville, empire of ancient cultures, where appearances and realities easily combine with those of the past, the present, and forever; the feelings and perceptions of the city are savored and poured out lovingly to reach the heart of reality in the most noble and humane sense of life.
That which is admired and respected, that which excites us and moves us is cared for with loving faithfulness, elevating spiritual purity. To identify, preserve, strengthen and pass on, is this not the vision and mission of the Arts? Art is a powerful and useful tool for social and educational development, capable of opening up communication between different towns and nations; and drawing standpoints closer together.
One of the most unequivocally identifiable values of Spanish culture, universally widespread along with Flamenco, is without a doubt, the Art of Bullfighting.
The Greco-Roman ancestral roots of bullfighting send us back to mystical origins where myths and legends interweave between what is human and divine, the Eros and Thanatos that founded our particular nature, our way of perceiving life and our disposition.
I understand little or nothing of bullfights or the Art of Bullfighting because, in my ignorance, I do not know the semantic language of the different lances and the luck of the bullfight, encrypted codes of a secret dialogue that, in its highest purity, I perceive as the most intense and emotional duel of love and death in which the most fundamental values of existence are expressed.
Alone with God and my truth is a private and intimate scene, made into a painting, of the events that happen in the life of a bullfighter before the fight, before going out to the unpredictable wheel of fortune.
Here we find the outline of time illuminated by the hunger to Be, of wishes turned to supplications, exertion and solitary places, silences and time at a standstill. Head and tail of a coin forged with feeling, devotion and passion.
The afternoon, embroidered with the flowers of a Sevillian spring, waits for you to proudly walk out to the sands of the bullring hanging from your shoulder.
My heart stops in awed silence before the naked truth that man is willing to give everything to confront death. Overwhelmed by deep emotion, he is only capable of regaining enough strength to exclaim: Olé!
My thanks to José Gálvez for his extraordinary collaboration upon agreeing to be the model for this work during his time as a student at the Sevillian bullfighting school, Escuela Tuarina de Écija. Today, in Mexico, José Gálvez continues to fight to reach his highest dream: To be a bullfighter.