Alex Van Gelder: Meat Portraits

  • Art
  • Photography
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Meat Portrait #038, 2012

© Alex Van Gelder. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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Meat Portrait #010, 2012

© Alex Van Gelder. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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Meat Portrait #013, 2012

© Alex Van Gelder. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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Meat Portrait #015, 2012

© Alex Van Gelder. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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Meat Portrait #024, 2012

© Alex Van Gelder. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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Meat Portrait #028, 2012

© Alex Van Gelder. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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Meat Portrait #030, 2012

© Alex Van Gelder. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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Meat Portrait #031, 2012

© Alex Van Gelder. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

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Meat Portrait #037, 2012

© Alex Van Gelder. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Free

Raw meat and animal innards give new meaning to the saying ‘It's what's inside that counts’ in Alex Van Gelder’s photographs. His first London show, Van Gelder's work was shot in Africa, where the butchers’ technique differs to European practice – European butchery involves electric saws, African butchers cut the meat by hand. The initially somewhat stomach-turning images really do create some sublime portraits.

Event phone: 020 7287 2300
Event website: http://www.hauserwirth.com

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Robin Marchesi

Alex Van Gelder’s Meat Portraits at Hauser and Wirth is an exhibition unlikely to be surpassed in 2014. His lens, transforms the produce of a primitive, West African slaughterhouse, into an array of almost mythological landscapes. Entrails, fly infested carcasses, two eyes and an intestine, owing to the sculpting of their position in space, for his camera, transmute into vast caverns, Middle Earth type landscapes and horizons of colour on alien planets, rather than mere rotten, dead flesh carved up for consumption. It took time for me to overcome my disgust of the subject matter and perceive these portraits without prejudice - To distance myself enough to see life in dead meat. The trigger for this perceptual transformation came when a young woman asked me which of her ‘I-phone’ photos, of these Meat Portraits, I liked. I choose #008: “What is it?” She asked, adding with a laugh, “It looks like a vagina to me.” “And to me it looks like a broken heart,” I replied truthfully. Both of us no longer saw the portrait as part of an anonymous dead animal, but as a live reflection of our own inner universes. The Artist describes his work as “Still Lives” which they are, if you enter this exhibition with an open mind, otherwise you may remain in the Slaughterhouse, your mind closed to the dimensions and beauty, these Portraits offer. Van Gelder has taken the ‘Photographic Print’ to an unprecedented artistic level. In the tradition of great Dutch Artists, he adopted Paris as a home, from where he explored West Africa in various guises. His enduring relationship with Louise Bourgeois spanned four decades and their collaborative work “Armed Forces”, an introduction to the Portraits Van Gelder created during her final years. “Meat Portraits” gives us a glimpse into the fascinating world of a great man’s mind. It is not the camera, but the ‘eye’ behind it and in Van Gelder’s case; Hauser and Wirth give us an opportunity not to be missed.