Painting to the Music: How Domingo Zapata Created a Masterpiece During the Concert for Peace

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 Tamara Mauri
Domingo Zapata paints live on the stage of the Concert for Peace in Madrid June 30.

If you watched the Concert for Peace (Concierto Por la Paz) that took place in Madrid on June 30 in front of some 40,000 people, you would have seen performances by the likes of Luis Fonsi, Sebastian Yatra, Diego Torres and Carlos Rivera, among dozens others. 

But you would have also seen an unlikely sight in the middle of the stage: A man painting an enormous canvas as the music played around him.

The artist was Domingo Zapata, a Spanish painter whose “live art performance” on the stage of the Wanda Metropolitano stadium resulted in a six-meter long and two-meter high painting that will be auctioned off to benefit the Starlite Foundation, which strives to improve living, health and education for low-income families and children.

For Zapata, who has exhibited around the world and who’s done live art before, it was an experience both familiar and unique. 

“I had done live performances before, but never like what I did here,” he said, speaking from Spain a day later. “People were going to walk in and see this canvas up there, but I started to see the response. I saw how little by little people got hooked, and their attention grew as the concert advanced. It’s a work of art created between 40,000 people and 20 marvelous musicians.”

Zapata, of course, is used to painting in private, in his studio. In this case, he approached his task with an open mind. 
“A painting usually has many stages. In this case, it was like painting with a playlist. Thank God I knew many of these artists and I have a relationship with them,” says Zapata, who has worked with the likes of Alejandro Sanz, for whom he painted scenery and instruments for his current tour, La Gira.

Here, the challenge was scale—the painting is huge—and speed; it all had to be done by the time the concert was over. 
Initially, he says, the plan was to do something small, and short. 

“I’ve worked with this foundation for nearly two years. I’ve donated paintings and organized small events,” he says. “When they approached me about the live performance it was supposed to be very short. But then it evolved and turned into something that hadn’t been done before. I arrived a little before soundcheck and saw the whole setup. That’s when it hit me.” 

As Zapata got deeper into the painting, so did the musicians around him, adding their own brushstrokes to the painting as they finished their sets. 

“A painting is like a composition, it’s not that different to music,” says Zapata of the final result, a colorful canvas full of gigantic flowers. “A musical composition is notes and a painting is a composition of colors.”

Watch Zapata paint below.