It all started a month ago with a simple Instagram message from the PR office of the Puerto de Santa Maria Bullring. They explained that this August they would be hosting a ver y special event. For the first time ever The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art Foundation would perform its world known show “How the Andalusian Horses Dance” in a bullring. A bullring is in itself an unusual venue but this is no ordinary bullring it happens to be the largest in Spain after Madrid s Las Ventas and considered one of the most beautiful in its architecture and size.
I have drawn and painted horses from a very early age and have always felt a powerful connection to them. My collection of equestrian art called “Las Reprises” is probably one of my most mysterious of all the artwork I produce. For my exhibit to coincide with the world famous horse school is a huge honor and the perfect setting to bring together this production I begun three years ago.
For the next five months I will be immersed in the production of six new large-scale canvas paintings specially for this event. Together with my earlier paintings the collection will bring together all my equestrian art under the roof of this unique venue.
I would like to explain a little of the location, the venue and of course the horse show as their uniqueness must be understood in order to be appreciated.
THE PORT TOWN
My next solo exhibition will take me to El Puerto de Santa Maria. “El Puerto” as its known is located on the Atlantic coast of Southern Spain in the Bay of Cádiz. It is popular for its sherry and for its beaches, which are the town's principal tourist attraction more importantly however the town is steeped in history, museums and monuments.
In 1260, Alfonso X of Castile conquered the city from the Moors and renamed it Santa María del Puerto. Having received a royal charter the city was then allowed to use the title "El" prior to the name of the city itself. This is a distinguishing property and even though Madrid is the capital of Spain it has not earned this distinction.
Columbus visited El Puerto in 1480 and received encouragement for his travel plans. His second expedition to the Americas set sail from El Puerto de Santa María and his pilot, Juan de la Cosa drew his world map (the first including the coast of New World) in El Puerto in 1500.
El Puerto was the residence of several wealthy cargadores, merchants who operated Spain's trade with the Americas. During the 16th and 17th centuries, it was the winter port of the royal galleys. In the nineteenth century the city became the General Headquarters for the French Army during the Peninsular War under the reign of Joseph Bonaparte (1801–1812).
My collection of equestrian art will take over the exhibition hall at the bullring “The Real Plaza de Toros de El Puerto de Santa María” a beautiful turn of the century hall. There are two main reasons why this venue is unusual first of all its a bullring which doesn't usually cater for these kind of events but secondly and this is its true uniqueness, the bullring has one of the best lighting installations in Spain allowing events to be performed at night. This is important as we are located in the very South of Spain in mid summer when temperatures can reach 45ºc.
The Real Plaza dating from the 19th century has an eclectic architectural style and was completed in 1880 and considered one of the most beautiful examples of Spanish monuments from the second half of the 19th century. The arena is 99 meters in diameter and the central ruedo measures 60 m. It is estimated to hold 12,186 spectators, making it one of the largest rings in Spain behind Madrid's Las Ventas and the ring in Valencia.
The final ingredient to this collaboration is the horse show "How the Andalusian Horses Dance”. from the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art Foundation, based in Jerez de la Frontera and its horses the “Andalusian” Breed. The School is devoted to conserving the ancestral abilities of the Andalusian horse, maintaining the classical traditions of Spanish baroque horsemanship, preparing horses and riders for international dressage competitions, and providing education in all aspects of horsemanship, coach driving, blacksmithing, the care and breeding of horses, saddlery, and the manufacture and care of horse harness.
The Royal Andalusian School is a riding school comparable to the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria. The Spanish Riding School was named for the Spanish horses that formed one of the bases of the Lipizzan breed, which is used exclusively at the school.
The Andalusian, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or PRE (Pura Raza Española), is a horse breed from the Iberian Peninsula, where its ancestors have lived for thousands of years. The Andalusian has been recognized as an individual breed since the 15th century, and its conformation has changed very little over the centuries. Throughout its history, it has been known for its prowess as a war horse, and was prized by the nobility. The breed was used as a tool of diplomacy by the Spanish government, and kings across Europe rode and owned Spanish horses.
The Carthusian Andalusian or Cartujano is generally considered the purest Andalusian strain, and has one of the oldest recorded pedigree lines in the world. For the first time ever the horses will perform in a bullring making the event a once in a life time occasion.
Now its understandable why it has been so busy these last weeks. I now submerge myself back into this ambitious project with butterflies in my stomach looking forward for the final day to come and share this experience with all of you. Nearer the dates I will share more details of the show in team time its now back to the drawing board.