SAM THE BUTCHER contemporary art

Artist Statement


Abattoir - An Exploration of Meat through Painting

I’m a self-taught artist and have made my living since high school as a professional illustrator, digital artist, and art director in the entertainment industry. I never attended any art or trade school, but I’ve painted on and off all my life and, during the past seven years, have committed myself seriously to this work.

My latest body of work, Abattoir, is an exploration of meat through painting. In the tradition of Chaim Soutine and more recently, Jenny Saville and Victoria Reynolds, the theme of meat has become for me, a gentle madness. Years ago, my wife traveled to Istanbul on a business trip and brought back amazing photos of the Turkish open markets with hanging meat in the butcher shops. I was hooked. Ever since then, this theme has dominated my palette. For me, the obvious sensual beauty of meat is a worthy subject of tactile and linear observation and my hope is that my work directs - in both bold and subtle ways - the way we perceive beauty and ugliness, violence and culture.

Most recently, I wanted to paint a really large canvas of a carcass where the gestures and scale of the work would echo Rembrandt’s slaughtered ox or Soutine’s vibrant bloody bovine series and I set out to get my own lovely cow – something that wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Luckily, I had the good fortune to meet and work with Mike Gale, the owner of the Chileno Valley Ranch in Petaluma, CA. He invited me to view and photograph two cows that were being butchered in an open field. Until that point, most of my paintings were set in refrigerated slaughterhouses and the contrast of settings was therefore very striking. It was a beautiful spring morning and the light cast a warm glow on the scene. The flesh contrasted with the grass and the sky and it was thrilling to see the carcasses being prepared in the open field. I remember being so captivated that I had to keep reminding myself to take pictures. The colors were so saturated that it gave me more of a feeling that my connection with my subject was a more complete and visceral one. Later, I painted Dreaming of SaVille, an 8 ft. by 5 ft. painting from this scene. I wish I could have painted on an even larger canvas, but I was constrained by the size of my work space.

-Artist portrait - Photo Credit: Photo by Max Lobato