Awaiting Courtesan

1994, Oil on Canvas, Size: 39 x 39

In late 20th century Russia, I spent hours reading through some of Ernest Hemingway’s novels. In his 1932 non-fiction book, Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway says, “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter's honor." Dressed in traditional costume, the brave matadors appear graceful and confident, while expertly mastering the bull itself. It becomes a dance of sorts – first, the rivals observe each other, then the matador provokes the bull with his cape (muleta), followed by a ferocious charge by the angry bull. Music plays in the backdrop, while the tension thickens and the audience applauds. As the bull becomes weaker, the matador gains strength. In the finale, an ultimate thrust of a sword (estoques de desabello) to the bull’s neck brings the dance to a dramatic end.