Mexican Wrestling as Art

A wall of oversized photos dominate the gallery space at Equator Books in Venice, Calif. i i

hide captionA wall of oversized photos of Mexican wrestlers dominate the gallery space at Equator Books in Venice, Calif.

Noah Adams, NPR
A wall of oversized photos dominate the gallery space at Equator Books in Venice, Calif.

A wall of oversized photos of Mexican wrestlers dominate the gallery space at Equator Books in Venice, Calif.

Noah Adams, NPR

In a bookstore in the funky California beach town of Venice, larger-than-life-sized color photographs of masked Mexican wrestlers are the focal point of a very different art exhibit.

Malcolm Venville photographed about 150 "Lucha Libre" wrestlers for an upcoming book. Translated literally, "lucha libre" means "free fighting." To many Latinos, it's professional wrestling, vaudeville, a venerable cinema genre and the Bushido code of the Japanese Samurai all wrapped up in one campy and crowd-pleasing spectacle.

Venville has made those campy characters into art objects. Equator Books has 13 of his highly detailed wrestler photos on display — including Astro Boy, Super Pinocho 3000, Raziel, Super Porky and Coco Verde, the green clown.

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