Alex Van Gelder’s Meat Portraits at Hauser & Wirth, Savile Row

Art is an odd thing. And it doesn’t get much odder than the portraits of Alex Van Gelder, which are being exhibited at Hauser & Wirth until 8th February 2014.

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And why are they so odd? Well because they’re made entirely out of ANIMAL INNARDS, that’s why.

Mr Van Gelder is not a well man. His previous projects include 18 photographs of Louise Bourgeois’s hands in the final years of her life (a lot of pictures of a dying person’s hands).

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Van Gelder made these stomach-churning photographic portraits at a Benin slaughterhouse, to ‘upend tradition notions of portraiture’. And he certainly did that. Bravo, polite applause etc.

‘African butchers don’t use electric saws as Europeans do but cut up the meat by hand which produces a variety of styles. The slaughterhouse was in the open air and in front of it a small market where they would sell the still warm meat. I worked there on and off for one year producing my Meat Portraits. I consider these portraits still lives.’ – Alex Van Gelder.

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It’s all raw meat, entrails, sagging muscles and sinewy ligaments just flapping about everywhere. It is supposed to make you think about death, which is does, because it is pictures of dead stuff.

There are also some particularly charming pieces where you can see FAECES SPURTING OUT OF SKIN. I’m unsure what that symbolises. I don’t want to think about it too much lest I lose my breakfast.

There's also a nice colourful box you can sit in to think about the MEAT
Afterwards you can sit in a nice colourful box to think about the MEAT

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If you have the strong stomach of an ox and want to visit these lovely picturegraphs for yourself head on down to Hauser & Wirth to take a look – it’s free.

The gallery says, “On first encounter, the Meat Portraits revolt and nauseate, but there is a strange beauty underlying their initial impact.”

Perhaps I need to see them again.

Hauser & Wirth
23 Savile Row

Gallery hours:
Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm

Location map


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