Written by 07:49 What is Bullfighting?

Space and bullfighting

Like Architecture, Sculpture and Painting, Bullfighting is an Art defined by spaces. Its purpose, t…
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Space and bullfighting

Like Architecture, Sculpture and Painting, Bullfighting is an Art defined by spaces. Its purpose, to show the invisible, to give meaning to places that are not perceived due to their abstraction.

The current conception of Space is a product of the Greek mind. According to this conception we see things, people and objects but not Space. This thought, this conception, this way of explaining Space gives rise to a new science, Geometry, based on the study of the properties and measurements of figures in the plane or in space. The Art of Bullfighting keeps this conception of Space alive and is currently one of the few artistic disciplines that continues to shine on its own merits.

Space: Plan of the Castellón bullring

The main act takes place in a certain-closed Space. The Plaza itself is an enclosure whose power is concentrated in its epicenter, the arena. All eyes and attention are on the sand. If a person enters an empty Bullring, it is logical that their attention is focused on the arena since the geometric lines drawn in the space are concentrated at that point. La lidia gives meaning to that cavity.

Since the paseíllo is inaugurated, every centimeter of the arena acquires a meaning, a function, an order. The Space feels hierarchical with the paseíllo; Order and position, beginning and end, left and right, seniority. Everything is understandable at the fiesta, everything is explicable through spatial analysis, everything except those moments in which the atmosphere is created and the circumstances that lead to pure Art.

Space: the bullfighting parade. Order hierarchy

We are facing a fight, a demonstration of bravery and superiority of man towards the brave animal. With the Bull already in the ring, and Lord, and Owner of Space, the Bullfighter studies his wishes, his movements, his size and his weapons. The Matador receives the Bull using the cape whose spatial purpose is to stop, fix and put the bull in the right place. The arena becomes a tragic space full of feelings such as fear, hope, joy and sadness.

The suerte de varas in the first third constitutes one of the most violent actions of Bullfighting; El Toro Bravo rips and brutally attacks the horse. The distance that we observe before the attack closes as the animal approaches, the Space narrows until the Bull and Horse-Chopper join. It is the destruction of a Space reserved for fighting. Bullfighting is an Art that does not allow indifference, that forces us to understand at least what is happening. The fight has a meaning, Art, the search for brutal sensations necessary to derive in that contained, sublime and human breath.


The space: the suerte de varas, the picador

Third of flags, the Bull breathes, takes air. It is a Tercio in which the Bullfighter faces the Bull in a clean and moving space. Up to fifteen ways to put flags are counted; All with their different risks and spaces, entrances and exits.

With the crutch up the final fight. The power of the Bull against the power of the Bullfighter. All the previous study, all the tercios and all the spatial analyzes are concentrated in the arena to settle the fight. Knowing who is in charge in the Art of Bullfighting is an end in itself, a challenge that the Bullfighter imposes on himself and that ends with the supreme luck worthy of a suicide saved by Space.

It is not possible to give a pure reason to the Art of Bullfighting. Understanding, the geometric study of a pass implies an understanding of risk, value and courage, but it cannot explain that something else that pure works of art full of air, movement and the All contain.

This is how the sculptor Jorge Oteiza says in his work “Quosque Tandem …!”:

“There is an evident aesthetic relationship between the artist’s struggle with Space (agoramaquia) and that of man with the Bull. It is not a direct domain, a hunt. It is a (aesthetic) luck with cheating, with deception. Something also closely related to the luck (the grace, religious) of approaching man to God. (“Tricks to hunt God”, San Juan de los Ángeles). Two terrains: that of the artist and his wall, that of the man and the bull. That of man and God. Two styles: in one field or the other. One technique, the same: quote, tune and dominate (bullfighting terminology)


Gonzalo Ortigosa Yoldi
Cultural manager

Upcoming bullfighting events

Consult the calendar of bullfights in Spain: Seville, Valencia, Madrid… more than 150 bullrings and bullfighting shows.

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Last modified: 25 February, 2024
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