Europa Y El Toro
61 x 81cms
oil on board
The original inspiration for this painting came from the album cover of Ry Cooder's "Borderline" LP... A naked female bullfighter facing a charging Spanish bull. I loved the contrast between the bulls sheer power and the woman's naked fragility. Here the Spanish bullfight colours are preserved but the context is now the Greek legend Europa and the bull. Essentially a love story .... Europa is seduced and abducted by the god Zeus disguised in the form of a bull. I like the idea of them being in love and dancing together rather than attempting to draw blood. Also we can appreciate the beauty and power of both the beast and womankind.
To create the painting I photographed a small model bull (from a tourist shop in Granada) so that the sunlight hit it at the same angle as my female model. The figures were then scaled up to the right proportions. The red cloak was added afterwards to frame the subjects and the dramatic sky gradually evolved.
The heroic, epic perspective owes a lot to the German naturist movement and nationalistic propaganda posters and films of the 1930s. Leni Riefenstahl was a notable master of this genre.