William Pettit's Meat Paintings [food art]
Hopefully you're reading Top of the Food Chain, one of our newer columns in which Ryan Adams discusses the particulars of different cuts of meat. Artist William Pettit certainly is, and noticed something peculiar about them: the photos we use the illustrate the specific variations on the cuts, which come from an out of print edition of the North American Meat Processors guide, are uncannily similar to a series of paintings he did in 2005. Pettit had never seen the NAMP images before he read Ryan's column; the untitled paintings are done from life.
A sampling of Pettit's work, as well as his thoughts on his process, below.
There is an element of performance in the meat paintings....Perhaps more than portraits, there are biographies, or interviews with Steak, Oxtail, and Shin. I am interested in that transformation, physical and philosophical, of meat as art, meat as food (subsistence and culture), meat as sexuality, meat as death and birth. Besides the act of painting, process includes the initial selection (and purchase) of the subject and eventually its final preparation and consumption. So for pleasure or survival, another process begins.
The work is not a character-study which objectifies, but again, an interview which recollects an individual history. Like a photograph of a condemned man, it’s about the moment of death as much as the expectation and aftermath of the end.
As our carnal bodies admit defeat, they seek reconciliation. We too transform, and the consciousness of our mortality flavors every move we make.