For those of you who have been here a while and used to visit Café Eucalyptus, you may recall the iconic painting that hung in the center of the old colonial space. It was of a bullfight in Spain. But it wasn’t a normal bullfight, it had a big twist to it.
It was created by a very famous artist A. Dawi. He did it as a gift to the owners of Café Eucalyptus back in 2002. And it became so famous that back in the early 2000’s, it could be found in all of the top guidebooks of the time. In fact, it can even be found today online if you look hard enough.
What made it famous? Well, it was an unusual take on the bullfight itself. Because it’s victor was actually not the matador, but rather the bull. In the center of the ring, the bull is clutching a sword between its two front legs and thrusting it into the matador who is writhing in pain on the ground. It’s a brutal scene, but no more so than if the matador had been taking down the bull.
People who saw the painting either loved it or hated it. There was very little “in between” response to it. I remember the first time I saw it. I loved it. Loved the concept, loved the colors of it and loved the size, a full seven and a half feet by seven and a half feet. There was no missing it when you walked into the place. It hung in the middle of the room and demanded all eyes to focus on it.
Café Eucalyptus is gone now, and the painting “disappeared” when the place closed down. But it wasn’t lost to time, it was simply put into storage until the right place could be found for it to hang again.
As I said, Señor Dawi is very famous and this painting was highly sought after. But since we were close to the owner of the restaurant and Codie managed the place during its last year of operation (before the Tranvia took away the road and sidewalk in front of the building), we ended up as the proud owners of the piece. And I say proud because we truly love what the concept portrays.
Now, I don’t know the painter himself (Codie does), but I imagine that his vision here had more to do with life overall than just a simple bullfight. I think it meant that the world can be a cruel place were people who are at a disadvantage are constantly treated poorly and put down by those “above” them. The people in power. The ones who think they have a right to take advantage of everyone.
I think it also speaks to the idea of cruelty that is justified by tradition. That it is okay to take from others with force or the power of government, because that is the way it has always been. And this kind of tradition is widespread throughout South America.
But what this painting also says is this, “You keep treating us unfairly and eventually we are going to rise up and overthrow you. We will stand up taller than you expect, and we will defeat you.”
And that now seems to be a tradition that is coming to the forefront throughout South America. In the span of a couple of months, we have seen uprisings against the governments of four countries on the continent. We may still see more.
And the central theme through all of those protests is the wealth divide. The poor feel the rich control too much, hold them down and unfairly take the resources of the country for themselves. In Ecuador we seem to have—for the moment at least—escaped the worst of it all. We did not see the large number of deaths that the other countries have seen. We have not had the protests go on for months. We did not see the government crumple.
But that may still come. The people here who feel they are the downtrodden have not walked away from the fight. They have taken a “time-out” to see if their demands for change are taken seriously or simply pushed aside. So, this fight is not over.
The crowd may soon be chanting for blood again. But this time the matadors may lose, and the bulls may take the victory. Unless the matadors take to heart what they have been asked to do, they may find themselves on the wrong end of the sword.
It’s a scary thought, but not one without precedent.
I’m just sayin.’
P.S. That beautiful painting is now hanging in our house in Yunguilla. And we couldn’t be happier looking at it every day.
Señor Dawi is currently exhibiting his new series of work called “Chromatic Crossings” at the Salón del Pueblo at the Casa de la Cultura.