So, dear readers, what’s for dinner tonight? Maybe a little chicken? Maybe a nice juicy steak with all the trimmings? Or how about a tasty leg of lamb? Or what do you say to a good ole slab of bacon? Hmmm, sounds delicious, doesn’t it? But wait, why stop there? What about a well-grilled slice of dog? Or maybe some barbecued cat? Or, what about something a bit closer to home?
If you’re willing to chow down on a juicy beef burger then why not a cat burger? Cows have as much personality as cats or dogs and quite a few humans too. Our bovine pals have their likes and dislikes, their mood swings, their affections, they can even fall in love, get stressed, and like to share a private cow joke or two. So what’s the big problem with eating meat if we’re not going to put felines, canines, chimps, and even humans on the menu too?
Oh, don’t tell me you’re suddenly squeamish about a lickle-bitty kitty? Hell, when most of you go into that supermarket you positively drool over all those tasty meaty morsels bagged, sealed, and wrapped like kinky Christmas presents on display. Let’s be honest, we rarely ever think about what the fuck we’re actually looking at before popping it in our basket. I know I don’t. I just laden up the old trolley and head back home to an artery-clogging meat-filled breakfast, lunch, dinner time, and tea. That’s right, just wipe that cow’s ass and pass me mah knife and fork.
Of course, if that’s your take on eating meat products, then you won’t be at all put off by Brazilian artist Fábio Magalhães‘s hyperrealistic paintings of human body parts diced, chopped, and gutted like some poor cow or pig or sheep and neatly bagged up for our consumption. Magalhães’s paintings are simultaneously extraordinary works of painterly beauty and gruesome depictions of bloody horror. His intention is in part to make the viewer think about the meat industry, about eating meat, and what it is we’re actually consuming.
Magalhães started his “intimate” meat portraits with the series O Grande Corpo (The Great Body) in 2008, in which he worked from photographs of his face and body tightly wrapped in polythene. The paintings present a complex visceral image of gruesome horror together with, in some images, an association of auto-eroticism. Magalhães next produced a more bloody series of Retratos Íntimos (Intimate Portraits) which show in incredible detail images of innards, body parts, and blood products all wrapped in polythene. The high quality of his painting technique together with the subject matter make it almost “impossible [for the viewer] not to react with the heart.”
By exposing the viewer to images of brutalized body parts, Magalhães is also asking the viewer to question what it means to be human. He has divested the human body from its imposed religious, psychological, historical, and personal significance to question what makes our existence different from any other animal if all we are is the same flesh and bone?
Magalhães grew up in Bahia in north-eastern Brazil. He took an ealy interest in painting and drawing and spent hours looking at and copying paintings by artists as diverse as Picasso, Caravaggio, and Jackson Pollock from the pages of his father’s encyclopedia. He went on to study at the Fine Arts School of the Federal University of Bahia. Since then, he has been exhibiting his work since 2003, with his paintings shown in group and solo shows across most of South America. You can see more of Fábio Magalhães’s work here.
See more of Fábio Magalhães’s bloody brilliant paintings, after the jump…