Bullfight and bullfighting are words that are not alien to anyone. In this individual exhibition by the artist and curator Conchi Álvarez, she plants her particular vision of the so-called Fiesta Nacional (referring to the Spanish bullfights).
The painter has focused her attention on the man, the bullfighter, the matador, the toreador on foot, starting with the ritual, which is almost liturgical, that precedes the bullfighting performance. A purification process in which the man, renouncing his mundane clothes, begins the catharsis to achieve his inner sublimation. A delicate and silent protocol, where each garment is a step further into the spiritual transformation, establishing a ritual that is transmitted from generation to generation, in which the metamorphosis from man to hero, a demigod (Imitheos), is ready to carry out a performance in the bullring, where he will find himself, face to face, with death.
The bullfighting suit that presides over the installation, gives its name to the exhibition, “The Bullfighter, of Crimson and Gold”. It is the costume that was worn on various occasions or faenas, and with the one the bullfighter David Galván, inspirer and model of this series, posed for the artist. The costume was generously given as a gift for the painter’s collection. The suit, as Cossío affirms: “It is a heavy piece, that holds and contains the limbs”, it is “adorned with gold, overloaded with embroidery, caireles and alamares” (both embroidery techniques). It is a garment of unquestionable visual beauty, quite attractive and inspiring. In this case, “clothes do make the man”, since this costume has hardly undergone transformations over time.
The first paintings in the series ´The Ritual of the bullfighter´ focus on the moments prior to the performance in the bullring, expatiating on very intimate moments of the dressing process, where the determining transformation occurs. On this occasion, the author has continued the ritual beyond the Sancta Sanctorum from which a metamorphosis from man to demigod takes place, accompanying the bullfighter to the bullring. Also, she has noticed that the ritual continues from there, with key moments, such as the visit to the Chapel to pray and commend himself to divinity, followed by waiting in the Callejón (place in the bullring where the bullfighters wait) for the Paseíllo, where the torero shows an absent countenance because his essence is no longer there, because “Alea iacta est” (la suerte esta echada or the die is cast).
In the Paseíllo, leading to the entrance of the arena, they partake in protocols and suspicious details, which are also abound throughout the rest of this ritual … And the Faena or display, where the bullfighter and the bull challenge each other face to face in a dance of unbeatable aesthetics and attractiveness.
The world of bullfighting hails from a thousand-year-old attraction in the Mediterranean area, dating back to the ritual ceremonies of Crete in which priests, men and women, confronted the bull. And for this reason, this performance where the concept of death is always present, it has an almost sacred atmosphere in which the mental and psychological preparation of the bullfighter is essential.
And where is the other character, The bull? In the paintings of this exhibition, it never appears, although we know through the actions and gazes of the bullfighter, it is there, offscreen. Because for Conchi, the bull is another story.