Artists Reviews 2005

Review from his exhibition at Convento de San José  in Brihuega, Guadalajara August 2005

Wednesday, 3 August 2005 

Bullfighting Mythology 

by Rafael González 

José Luis Lázaro Ferré, who has been selected to represent Spain at the 5th International Florence Biennale of Contemporary Art, exhibits his work in Brihuega. 

Paintings and bulls are an inseparable couple in the art world. More and more artists are choosing this evocative world as the subject matter of their work, though most incline towards more photographic realism. The proposal of José Luis Lázaro Ferré is surprisingly different. The renowned artist exhibits his most recent paintings at the Convent of San José in Brihuega, with bulls and mythological components taking centre stage. José Luis Lázaro Ferré sees bullfighting as a wonderfully studied choreography. “It’s essentially a ballet, though a somewhat dangerous one”, said the experienced artist, whose works are now on display at the refurbished San José Convent in Brihuega. Though Lázaro Ferré’s Catalan heritage may suggest a certain rejection of the bullfighting universe, nothing could be further from the truth. “I like the energy and symbolism”, he said. He could not have found a better town in the province to exhibit his collection of bullfighting pieces than Brihuega, the bullfighting centre of Guadalajara, a place where bulls have acquired very special significance. 

Vibrant images of bull’s heads and horns and highly schematic landscapes are the two most common kinds of paintings in the exhibition of Lázaro Ferré’s work, which will be on display in Brihuega until 10 August 2005. This group of twenty recently created works is not so much impacting as suggestive and calming, encouraging viewers to reflect on the subject matter. The exhibition opens with the painting El salto de la Garrotxa, a 57x113 cm vertical collage, which is a good place to start to understand what follows. Vista de Brihuega comes next, a new landscape collage with Modernist nuances. “I try to schematize landscapes to make them more contemporary”, explained Lázaro. The work provides a view of some of the most emblematic monuments in Brihuega, such as the Arco de Cozagón. The first mythological references appear a bit further along in the exhibition, where the bulls are accompanied by key mythological figures such as Zeus. In fact, there are four different paintings entitled Zeus. The figure of the bull appears in each one, along with certain common features. The bulls are more humanized than is customary and can be seen in movement, thus offering the sensation of being alive. 

The rest of this excellent exhibition full of curious details is made up of paintings of bull’s heads and horns, and ephemeral, fleeting landscapes reduced to the bare bones. This is the case of the painting Egipto, a beautiful symbolic creation in which nothing is what it appears to be. The pyramids are newspaper cut-outs and the sand is from the desert, but not the Egyptian desert.