C24 Gallery has another must-see exhibit up now showcasing the latest work of Spanish-American artist, Domingo Zapata, entitled A Bullfighter in New York / Un Torero in Nueva York. The show includes twelve of Zapata’s Chaquetillas, in a series called Dress to Kill, and four Burladeros, as well as paintings of matadors dressed in full regalia tending to everyday tasks.
Although considered a “blood sport” most enthusiasts, like Zapata, view bullfighting as a fine art. This new series recalls the artistic nature of a Spanish tradition brought to fruition by a contemporary hand. In many countries, the stadium execution of the bull has been outlawed. It can be speculated that doing so has focused the audience on the true nature of the tradition.
Like all artists, the work of the Torero relies on long standing formal gestures, an emphasis on aesthetics, as well as the energy and reception of the viewer. Bullfighting lacks elements of competition, rendering the spectacle, much like Zapata’s work, a thrilling expression of agility, vitality and courage.
Zapata’s Chaquetillas (bullfighting jackets) are an essential element of the traditional traje de luces or “suit of lights” ritually worn by the world-famous matadors during treasured Spanish pastime. The term traje de luces originates from the sequins and reflective threads of gold and silver woven into the jackets. The suits themselves are based on the flamboyant costumes of the 18th century dandies and showmen involved in tauromachia, which later became exclusive to the bullfighting ritual.
The graffitied photographs of models wearing the Chaquetillas capture iconic models using their semi-naked bodies as canvases. “A woman is a mother of creation,” Zapata says. “Without creation, we don’t exist. Therefore, I find women extremely important and caring and loving, you know?”
The Burladeros are wooden panels that are located a short distance from and parallel to the bullring wall, behind which a bullfighter can seek refuge from a bull during a bullfight. Zapata has adorned these solid shields of protection with brightly painted graffiti amid figurative outlines. The titles of each Burladero come from the names of well-known and bullfighters.
In his newest series of paintings Zapata explores the place of the bullfighter in the modern world. Daily rituals of modern life, such as walking a dog, surfing the internet or cooking dinner, are juxtaposed with the Torero in full, traditional garb is surrounded by a red saturated background. The vibrant crimson backdrop recalls the red capes used by the Torero’s in the final performance of a bullfight.
Domingo Zapata has been commissioned for many murals throughout New York City and most recently for the lobby of New York City’s Freedom Tower.
Domingo Zapata’s A Bullfighter in New York/ Un Torero En Nueva York will be on Exhibit through December 24th, 2014 at C24 Gallery, Located at 514 West 24th Street, In the Chelsea Gallery District.