The Art of Jonathan Cadavid – An Introduction
Well folks, the 6th International Biennal of Suba (a suburb of Bogota) has been and gone and with great unanimity a young artist, just 23 years old, from Medellin was chosen by the curatorial committee as the winner.
Jonathan Cadavid`s work has a harsh appearance to some – and perhaps even nauseating to others. However, what cannot be denied is the depth of concept and in its delivery the presence of poignance and stimulation toward a deeper conscious interest in the art. That is what his work brings to what is perhaps an ambivalent world of Colombian art.
So what is it that elates or sickens the viewers of Cadavid`s work and makes them think that they are more pertinent to a Quentin Tarantino film than an art gallery or a home? Is it the fact that he places beauty and the deathly reality of life side-by-side? Reminds us of our final destination? Makes us question not only our mortality but makes us confront our relation with it – be that by cloaking our life in religion or atheism . . .or by reducing our moments of supposed perfection to subtleties of vanity upheld by our egos?
Cadavids work is not really about meat – not our flesh nor that which we eat, although that that may seem to be central to his proposition – but about the fundamental question that intrigues us all: Of life and death – and beyond.
After the death of a close friend, Cadavid started to question mortality – his friends, his own and of humanity. Part of the conclusion reached is that we may simply be created from flesh and bones – there seems to be no place for a soul in his world and that is one of the points of view that he questions through his work. He questions the possibility that we may be no more than meat – equivalent to that which we find in a butchers shop where at least there still exists an element of the life that once lived and breathed – perhaps even thought and felt unlike the sanitized way meat is packed and presented at most supermarkets, detached from what it once was. However, this question then leads us as the observer to recognize in a more forceful manner that fact that we are alive and that we are able to lead our lives, in such a fashion that what we may leave behind after our death is much more than the flesh and bone that we are made of. What Jonathan Cadavid is doing with his artwork is searching for an answer to that age-old question of the existence of the soul.
Carnivore of the Animals
Another point that immediately resounds when observing a piece by Cadavid is our relation to animals and the possibility of recognizing in them a soul, thoughts and feeling, just as we do recognize this in ourselves a humans. In Jonathan`s own words:
“Visualicemos por un momento nuestro cuerpo tendido sobre un mesón de carnicería a la vista y tacto de cualquiera. Un carnicero dispone de cada parte de nuestros miembros; cada parte de nuestro cuerpo será pesado y medido como mercancía. La imagen no es familiar, pero es posible, no? Si nuestra conformación primaria son las mismas carne y huesos que los del cerdo, en algunos casos el mismo porcentaje de grasa y quizás hasta el mismo sabor, es igual de posible que el “alma” de un cerdo trasciende la carne y que una vez muerto el cuerpo, su espíritu vaya a un lugar diferente a nuestros intestinos. Pensar de este modo nos asusta, pero además nos hace mas conscientes de nuestra condición mortal, la vida se percibe de forma diferente y hasta se valora más a los animales; somos muy pretenciosos y por esto no aceptamos que los animales sean nuestros semejantes, pero bueno, que se defienda quien sepa cómo hacerlo.”
“Let us visualize for a moment our own body laid upon a butchers table available to be seen and touched by anyone. A butcher presents each of our limbs; each part of body will be weighed and measured as merchandise. The image is not familiar, but it is possible, isn’t it? If our constitution is primarily made up of the same meat and bones as those of a pig, in some cases with the same percentage of fat and perhaps of the same taste, it is equally possible that a pig transcends meat and once its body is dead, its spirit goes to a place that is somewhat different than our intestines. To think in this manner scares us, but it makes us more conscious of our mortal condition, we perceive life differently and even may value animals more. We are pretentious and do not accept animals as our equals, but then, those that know how to should defend them.”
Are we really so different from other animal forms that share this planet with us? If not how should we treat them. As carnivores for many thousands if not millions of years, it would seem strange that we change that habit – but perhaps the work of Jonathan Cadavid should make us at least reflect on our relationship with the meat that we do eat – that once lived, breathed and perhaps shared its soul with the universe just as we do.
The Art of Jonathan Cadavid – the Art of Existence
A work of art is always appreciated from the point of view of the observer and as I observe the works of Jonathan Cadavid I see nothing but strong talent – of creation – divinity. Indeed, in artistic terms his color tones reflect those used by Jenny Saville – however, his mixture of purity of color in the nudes and the reds in the meats operate almost in stark contrast and filter his message in perhaps the strongest way possible so that it arrives at the public without alteration.
One of the artists strongest views is that there be no blood in his artworks – he has no intention of relating his works to bloodiness or to violence as such – it is a spiritual proposal, though not a religious one. Also, it is not clear whether his nudes are dead nudes or perhaps are alive and just in a state of slumber.
Perhaps there is no hereafter once we are dead. Perhaps we are just meat as Jonathan questions – but I think that while we are here on earth at least, then we are during that time a fundamental representation of the same creation that begat the universe – be that spiritual, divine or simply the Big Bang. And that spark of timeless creativity is present within the works of Jonathan Cadavid. Perhaps it is the same spark that Jonathan seeks to investigate – one that shines in his work.
Carne en Armonia: Armonia Encarnada
por Cristian Zapata (English Translation Below)
… Las linfas junto con los cuerpos desnudos poseen la misma expresion inmutable y elocuente de naturalidad asi como igual suspension fisica. Los cuerpos se muestran hipotonicos, esparcidos a sus anchas en una alegre comunion inanimada con los filetes que les rodean, como si pudieran ser tan facilmente manipulados como los trozos de carne, mostrando una especie de hermandad, en una intencion de gemelar en un mismo marco visual la contextura de ambos elementos.
Los cuerpos humanos compartiendo con los tajos de carne, sin importar quien es quien, o que es que o quien es que. Hombre y carne como unidad de existencia, fusion de adjetivo y sustantivo. unidos bajo la certeza sobre la igualdad de la suerte a sufrir. Sobre la misma cercania del origen, del pasado igual. Sobre el mismo recogimiento ante la irrupcion subita del futuro. La carne como el asomo de la muerte. . . El hombre como un pedazo de carne mas que lo lleva a la revelacion tragica y siempre vista, la de mostrarse como parte de una misma penumbra, de una misma desintergacion definitiva…
…The lymphs beside the nude bodies possess the same immutable and eloquent expression of normality, having the same physical presentation. The bodies show themselves as hypo-tonic , strewn widely in a happy inanimate communion with the fillets that surround them, presenting a kind of brotherhood, with the intention of copying in the same visual frame the contexture of both elements.
The human bodies sharing with the cuts of meat, without importance of who is who, or which is which, or who is which. Man and meat as a unit of existence, a fusion of adjective and substantive. United under the certainty of the same luck they shall suffer. Of the closeness of origin and of the same past. Of the same seclusion before the sudden arrival of the future. Meat as the shadow of death . . . Man as a piece of meat, more than leading to a tragic revelation that is always visible, shows that which is part of the same shadow, of the same definitive disintegration …”
If you have enjoyed Jonathan Cadavid`s artwork and would like to know how you can legally use his images in promoting your cause or marketing agenda please write to jonathan(at)artcolombia.com to discuss your project with his marketing manager.
As part of his prize for winning the Biennal, Jonathan`s work is being given his first one-man show in the district of Suba, Bogota during April, 2008. Take some time and go and see it. Decide for yourselves if we are just meat after all!
Exhibition: Somos Carne (“We are Meat”)
Place: Suba Main Library, Plaza Suba, Bogota
Telephone: (+571) 686-1304
Date: April 17th, 2008
As an additional point of interest, this young artist already has one of his works chosen to represent a book of poetry by Faber Cuervo – and here it is.