Earlier this month, I bought a portrait painting of a bullfighter.
Il est maintenant mon torero!
It is one of my very favorite paintings ever. It has nothing to do with the bullfighting sport – it has to do with the mood and essence of the piece that speaks to me.
And that is what art is supposed to do – art is supposed to speak to your soul.
Now of course we all have different art tastes and those who collect art have differing reasons.
I used to collect artwork for teaching elementary art lessons – but now – I only want to collect pieces that bring zest and gusto into my life.
While I may love all kinds of paintings, sculpture, prints, and mixed media pieces – having something that you look at everyday changes everything. In fact, I would prefer to have “no art” on display rather than having things I only half enjoyed. Now this is not to say that I am picky about all material things, because I actually do not care about certain things. I really don’t! I guess I have a bit of a simple side when it comes to “possessions” – and that has been a nice, freeing quality…. but when it comes to art in the house, I am particular.
Anyhow, another interesting part about this recent art purchase is that I just gave away more than twenty paintings that were leftover classroom samples – and while they were beautiful – and I thought about keeping some for possibly doing an outreach show – I decided to pass them on rather than have them collect dust in the garage.
Here is an example of some beauties we passed on:
Buying a painting was the LAST thing on my list. I was not even looking for art – let alone a large portrait piece of a bullfighter.
But then it happened.
My husband and I were near this store that sells a bunch of post-auction art pieces.
They also have interesting books and so we decided to stop in real quick – because we were right there.
I saw this bullfighter portrait and I just kept looking at it.
I wonder if the portrait called to me even more that day because all that week I had been soaking up Modigliani portraits and I even wrote about the sketch of Gorky’s mother.
But seriously, bringing home a piece of art seemed ludicrous- to both of us – because who do you think helped haul away all of those art leftovers – my husband! And so I took a photo of Señor Torero and we left (but we each bought a book – I bought a soft cover of The Poems of Wifred Owen and he bought Grisham’s The Firm – to send to his daughter…)
But the painting haunted me for a couple of days.
I finally went back to see if it was still there.
I sighed when it was still there.
I grabbed it like it was something that I had lost.
And now it belongs to me.
Okay, for those of you die hard readers who have made it this far – well let me share bit more about this torero painting.
What cracks me up is how my husband was reacting while I was in line to pay for this piece, which was inexpensive by the way. There I was – doing the math in my head because if it was already 20% off and they now had a sale of “50% off of all art” – well I was wondering how that would play out – and I ended up getting 50% off the original (but again, we are not talking about a lot of moola here)
But you see – in line my husband started talking about how bullfighting is an “unacceptable sport” and how horrible and inhumane it is…. and while I know very little about the bullfighting sport (and I do agree with him) –well I had NO IDEA he felt so strongly about this subject. It completely caught me off guard.
It was also funny to see him react this way because he is not a super sentimental or an activist kind of guy.
He is a caring and “kind” fellow – (PTL ❤ ) but he is really not super “feelingy” –
For example, recently when a close family member of his went through something again – he was assessing his lack of empathy and wondered if it was okay…. (and I thought it was totally okay…) – and so here he was now- advocating for the bull (really??) and he was wondering why I liked the “bullman” so much – as if to suggest that buying the art meant that I supported the sport – which in some cases it does, but it did not for me in this case.
We had some lively banter on the ride home.
And while my husband’s light teasing repartee was fun, I also had the chance to just tell him what I loved about señor torero – which reminded me of what a gift it is to find a piece of art that speaks to your soul.
For me, liking this portrait has nothing to do with bullfighting.
This portrait preference has to do with the personality of the man that was imbued and preserved by the artist with each brushstroke. It has to do with the rich cultural feel as the color, texture, and use of space tells me a story.
Later, I explained to my husband some of what I loved about the piece, and now want to elaborate a bit more:
It’s the eyes, which are tired, yet content. Eyes that are a bit somber, maybe even sad – not sure yet…. needs to permeate –
It’s the subject’s relaxed posture, which portrays smoothness and natural confidence…
It’s the feel and mood of the well-painted mouth – smooth with softness that adds much – which sits upon this asymmetrical face that lets you feel the subject’s life seasoning.
It’s the colors – the rich green to the upper back and the brighter green in the jacket – with the gold, cream, and maroon….
It’s the texture – which is hard to see from a photo, but the bits of texture let you feel the granules of the dirt, the cord of the embroidery, and the silk of the hat.
And it’s the skill of the artist – which is highlighted in a work that is uncomplicated and not overdone – but yet finished with balanced use of light, half-tones, and shadows.
You see, my love for this Bullfighter portrait has nothing to do with corridas de toros – and instead – it has to do with harmonious use of space and light, which cleverly draws the eye to the left, up and down, and then over to the right- which then allows you to feel the penetrating personality of this culturally rich and seasoned subject.
In closing, while I had fun describing what I like about this piece, we all need to keep in mind that we may not always be able to explain “why” we love something – and that is okay!
We do not always have to have rich adjectives to describe “what we love” because sometimes there are no words – or we just can’t find them.
I never expected to hang a portrait of Bullfighter in mi casa, but this unexpected treasure is a highlight of June…. and it is gift to find art that calls to you.
So what do you think?
Do you like Señor Torero?
This post was inspired by Kan’s recent post “24 hours in Seville” – HERE – where she so eloquently highlighted a bit of the wonder “that Spain has to offer.”
For more portrait art, check out the MET’s 300+ portraits HERE
Have a great weekend.
Author update – Delancey Place’s encore selection let week featured the book Raphael by Michele Prisco. And they hand picked this wonderful La velata portrait to got with the excerpt…
“Raphael is best known and loved for his Madonnas, and for his large figure compositions in the Vatican, but much focus has recently been given to the equally great Raphael of the portraits” Full excerpt is HERE