A painting that depicts a nude and feminized Emiliano Zapata riding a sexually aroused horse has sparked controversy on social media after it was used by the federal government to promote an exhibition of art inspired by the revolutionary hero.
The Secretariat of Culture posted an image of the painting on Facebook and Twitter on Friday to promote the exhibition Zapata Después de Zapata (Zapata After Zapata), which opened at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City late last month.
The painting La Revolución by Chiapas artist Fabian Cháirez, one of 141 artworks included in the exhibition that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the revolutionary’s death, shows a naked Zapata atop a white horse with a prominent erection. Zapata has feminized legs and is wearing a pink sombrero, a presidential sash and a high-heel shoe on his left foot whose heel is a pistol.
The Culture Secretariat’s use of the painting to promote the exhibition garnered a mixed response on social media.
One Facebook user said the federal department should be reprimanded and that the official who approved the painting’s use must be dismissed.
Twitter user @tererereyo said the image made her cringe, while another Facebook user said it demonstrated a lack of respect for Zapata.
“I truly think that the image is offensive for the Mexican leader and hero. I’m not at all against homosexuality . . . but Zapata deserves respect. He was a leader who fought for land rights and freedom. I will never accept the denigration of his image in this way,” wrote Jonathan Gómez Rios.
Other social media users praised both the painting and the department’s decision to use it to promote the exhibition.
“I love that a simple painting causes so much controversy. People argue and seethe because of a painting, A PAINTING! Well done to the Secretariat of Culture and whoever’s behind this post. Congratulations!” said one Facebook user.
“Reading so many absurd comments, it appears that the artist achieved his objective,” wrote another.
“. . . The artist managed to offend . . . I love seeing you mad. By the way, the painting’s beautiful and I’m very happy that it is included in the exhibition . . .”
Cháirez himself told the newspaper El Universal that he found the controversy “interesting.”
“. . . The feminine [form of Zapata] is what causes contempt . . . We’re in a super sexist society. There are some people who are bothered by bodies that don’t obey the norms. [But] in this case, where’s the offense? Are they offended because he’s feminized?” he said.
Cháirez said that he chose to depict Zapata in the way he did because he is almost invariably represented as a manly man.
“. . . It’s rare to find [artworks] in which his masculinity isn’t glorified . . .” he said.
The artist said that before the exhibition opened he was summoned by the curator who told him that the Palace of Fine Arts management was concerned about the reaction his painting would produce.
As a result, the painting is shown separately from the rest of the artworks in the exhibition, which will run through February 16, 2020.
Source: Infobae (sp)