|Movie Poster featuring the luchador El Santo, 1965|
This time of year in the US most kids and quite a few grown ups are putting on masks for the Halloween holiday. Wearing masks for celebration, theater, and ritual started long ago. Probably around the same time we humans were hunting and gathering. Nowadays there are few places on earth where masks are regularly worn but in pre-Columbian Mexico masks were worn by priests and kings. The Aztecs and Mayans left behind stone carvings and paintings of those masked men. They were kind of the rock stars of their day so I guess masks were a part of pre-Columbian pop culture. In present day Mexico masks still have a place in mass culture on the faces of luchadores (Mexican wrestlers). Real, live, flesh and blood masked men, luchadores are part superhero/villian/amazing athlete/ film star/comic book character/icon. And not only that ...their images are painted on the sides of buildings, adorned on clothing, and are used in advertisments. They're inspiring subjects for visual artists all over the world.
|Valentino The Luchadore of Heart Breakers by Robert Palacios|
|Lucky Lucho by Max Lehman|
Their form of professional wrestling is called Lucha Libre (Free Wrestling). The masked version originated in Mexico in the early 1900's. Most luchadores begin their careers wearing a mask. Many only appear in public masked. Even those who appear unmasked go to great lengths to guard their true identities. The mask is sacred. At some point many luchadores will lose their masks either in a "face off" (challenge) with another wrestler or as a ploy where they remove one mask and replace it in order to transform in to a new luchador character. Sometimes a masked luchador is umasked at the end of his career relinquishing his identity once and for all.
|Luchador Poster-Mask vs. Hair|
They fight the timeless battle of good and evil. There is lots of drama in a luchador match but they are also true athletes known for their high flying moves. Some take on the role of the good guys. They follow the rules of luche libre to the letter and execute the luchador wrestling techinique with consumate skill. They are called the tecnicos. Others are a bit tricky, They are the brawlers, the bad guys. They are known as the rudos. All of the wrestlers are expected to stick to the Luchador code of honor.
|El Santo by Teresa Villegas|
|El Santo and the Blue Demon Coutesy of Saide's Art|
|Painting on Metal Sign, Mexico City|
At this point you've probably realized that I have a bit of a "thing" for luchadores! When I set out to do this post I realized that I've gathered quite a collection of luchador stuff. It was hard to choose. Recently I made some of my own Luchador inspired artworks, these little Luchador Angels. I can't wait to do more!
I've only included a few of the images here that I wanted to, some from my own collection along with a few stock photos and best of all the works of some wonderful artists. There are links back to the artist's websites under the images of their works. I hope you'll visit to see more of their fantastic art!