The paintings of Pérez Villalta for the Andalusian Pavilion. Universal Exposition of Seville, 1992 (1992)Andalusian Archives
The 1992 Universal Exposition of Seville, commonly known as "Expo '92," or "Expo," was a universal exhibition held in 1992 in the Spanish city of Seville. Its slogan was "The Age of Discovery," since that year was also the 5th centenary of when Christopher Columbus landed in America.
The paintings by Guillermo Pérez Villalta, one of Spain's leading postmodern artists, occupy a surface area of over 3000 square feet. They cover the top of the third level of the Andalusian Pavilion, a space that was known as the "forum" and was designed as a multi-use, institutional area.
The fresco is circular in design. The center of the trompe-l'oeil dome features the intertwined figures of the Sun and the Moon, from whom beams of light emanate, forming overlapping concentric circles that perfectly fit the stepped roof.
The next circle depicts the cycles of the moon, linking together the months, the hours of the day, and the points of the compass. The artist used the openings in the building's walls to create gradual lighting that changed with the sun's position throughout the day.
The middle circle depicts twelve figures symbolizing the twelve labors of Hercules, arranged alongside the twelve signs of the zodiac, the hours of the day, and the fruits and flowers of the months of the year. There is a clear correlation between some of the signs of the zodiac and Hercules' heroic labors. For example, the sign of Leo is associated with the death of the Nemean lion,
while Taurus is based on the artist's depiction of the myth of the capture of the Cretan bull.
The sign of Virgo tells the story of the labor of Hercules in which Eurystheus orders him to bring him the girdle of Hippolyta, the Amazonian queen.
The sign of Capricorn recalls the capture of the Ceryneian Hind, with gold antlers and hooves of bronze, which was sacred to Artemis. The sign of Scorpio is depicted in a more idealized way, associated with the second labor of Hercules: he was ordered to kill the Lernaean Hydra, a many-headed serpent whose heads would grow again when cut off.
For the remaining signs of the zodiac, Villalta, an expert in mythology, linked them with the labors of Hercules in a less direct, more symbolic manner.