Céret, art, tauromachia

Some friends recently encouraged me to write my posts in English or French. I guess I did not sistematically do it any earlier since Romanian is not only my language, but the language of most of my friends and my readers. However I decided I should give it a try from time to time... It might improve my English, stimulate the development of a style that would not  reveal to me in my mother language and give access to some international content to us all. Furthermore it will not let our brain fall asleep and it will delay the onset of Alzheimer disease too :))) So here I go...

I recently visited a small southern Mediterranean village called Céret. It's been a while since it was on my list mainly due to the fact that the town had been an artistic residence for several well known artists at the beginning of the XXth century. This summer, the Céret Museum of Modern Art hosts an exhibition about tauromachia - From Goya toBarcelo. I have dedicated a lot of time between the lines to the art of bullfighting: I read Death in the afternoon and several bullfighting articles as well as interviews with matadors, I tried to discover the basic moves and I wrote on this blog about Juan José Padilla. Whenever I think about it, I am amazed about my own interest in it as I find very few rational reasons to support it. Whenever I take a good look at us, the public, I see a frightening crowd in search of raw blood loss, in spite of all the laces, fans and ruffles we wear. There is something choreographic and empathetic in the show, it is true, as well as a sense of courage and sincerity, but could this peculiar mix be the entire explanation of us standing practically unmoved in the arena?

Whenever I can, I try to understand. The time will take its part in the process. The corridas, their underlying world of senses will slowly reveal themselves to me. But most of all I want to be able to understand what others see in it. From that point on, the exhibition in Céret was really helpful to me. 
Jean le Gac - La mort du torero

Michel Leiris (photo above) has one version of it. It is the second that kills one or saves one and that ability of glorifying the second has always marveled me. Pierre Alechinski has another version of it, extremely visual and intense: it is the encounter between an horizontal line - the bull - and a vertical line - the matador. Francis Bacon had long had a reductionist view: to him corrida was a pre-erotic show. Its only purpose was to make of the torero a more desirable man. The offer Leiris made him to illustrate a book about bullfighting opened a new perspective to Bacon: the matador is alone in the spotlight, face to face with the bull before death. It was Leiris himself who pretended that corrida was the exercise of sincerety since there is nothing that can be hidden from the public when man and bull are facing each other in the sand.

Eroticism is also part of the story. In our archetypes, the man stands the danger in order to conquer the woman. Matadors are part of past and present legends about desirability, eroticism and power. There is subjugation and spellbound. There is Eros and Thanatos (thank you again, Mr. Freud, for that image). Desire is not a stranger to death and fear of death. 

But I find there's also intense pleasure to see the suffering elsewhere. Why else would we keep on investigating  and playing again famous cornadas?

In the meantime, if you want to discover with you own eyes and you happen to be in the South of France, do not hesitate to go to Le peintre et l'arène - L'art de la tauromachie. Before that, just dare to leave me a comment about what you think there is in it... Thank you!