In April 2008 Thomas Williams Fine Art presented a widely publicised exhibition of works by Paul Simonon, his first show for six years.
This exhibition included a series of oil paintings interpreting ‘La Corrida’, bullfighting tournaments witnessed by Simonon during a visit to Spain in May 2003. He was at the Plaza de Toros Las Ventas in Madrid when the famous matador, Antonio Barrera, was tossed in the air repeatedly by the bull he was fighting. The wounded man was carried to the side of the arena by his fellow matadors (crudilla), wrapped in his cape. The drama of this scene reminded Simonon of ‘Deposition’ pictures by artists such as Carravaggio and Titian, and inspired his own series of paintings on the theme. The exhibition also contained a number of ‘Still Lives’ depicting objects which hold an element of religious symbolism.
The work for this show was painted in Simonon’s London studio after several months spent studying and sketching bullfights and matadors at first hand. He reached a point where he was “no longer a slave to reality and could take liberties” with his subject matter. The result is a group of strong images revealing both the ceremony and fragility of the world of the matador.