Thursday, 22 November 2012

Of Fighting Bulls and Prancing Heroes, or Protestant Modesty and Latin Realism.

Fighting bulls and prancing heroes present a particular set of problems for the monumental sculptor.  Whilst both are quadrupeds and therefore could have four potential points of contact with terra firma, yet the latter is dictated by a tradition that states: all conquering heroes’ horses must be gallopers and ‘paw the air’. It must make for some interesting sums for the artist and the engineer, calculating the stresses and strains, the balancing point, with and without a head full of defecating pigeons. Both of whom must dearly wish that our hero was a better horseman and that he could get his feisty beast under control, and ‘would you watch where you’re waving that stick, it’ll only end in tears, you’re  going to poke someones eye out with it’. There’s little concern for posturing, it’s all about balance for the concrete toro, a bovinal sentiment of ‘four legs good, two legs….I’ll fall over’.  A solid stance or a raging case of elephantitis, a genetically modified object or excessive overengineering?  A beast that looks like he’s been cloned from Albrecht Durer’s Papal rhinoceros.  At least his dignity and ’raison d’etre’ are entire, hanging free, unlike his brethren who grace the ring-road roundabouts of Rockhampton.  All are from a similar mould, anatomically perfect, each muscle group balanced, long in the back, deep in the chest.  A demonstration that’s a credit to the Australian breeders and the Queensland sculptor and a demerit for the man on the concrete mixer.  One Brangus’ is supported by the indignity of a metal rod, whilst a Braford’s has dropped and crumbled into dust.

The Victorians would have been mortified by this blatant display, this representation of sexual reproductive organs. Remember they were the generation that put skirts on chairs to cover the immodesty of bare wooden legs, which might explain why the ‘Moffat Tup‘, the Scot’s border town’s monument to local agriculture, is emasculated.

All local heroes in their various ways.  The condition of the puritanic tup and the indignant Ozzy beefies  have entered into their own local folklore. Whilst  the military horseman,
because we’re in Uruguay, has by law to be General  Artigas, stuck up on a plinth, in the middle of a plaza, has become an improvised bird roost. The Los Toros, is now El Toro as he’s  been shed from his heard and corralled on a roundabout at the entrance to Pasos de Los Toros, his drove mates’ images now rendered to bottles of fizzy grapefruit juice.
Dignified reality or prudishness primness? It probably depends upon your age.