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  • Words and Photos by Raul Barquet

The Raul Review: Porkchop at 212 Arts

Asbury Park based artist Porkchop combines an alphabet of his own invention with reclaimed objects creating vaguely familiar cultural artifacts rooted in ancient traditions. His eponymous exhibition curated by Parlor Gallery's Jill Ricci opened this week at 212 Arts, and runs through February 12th.

Having focused more on paintings and murals for some time, the artist's shift back into sculpture happened in the last half decade. When a friend gifted Porkchop with several department store mannequins, it launched him into a frenzy, snatching up sculptural objects from flea markets and antique stores whenever he could. These thrifted finds are altered structurally, painted in black and white, adorned in gold leaf and finally sealed with multiple coats of resin.

Fascinated by the idea that many cultures drew from much older traditions, Porkchop's work has as much to do with re-purposing objects as it does re-appropriating imagery. As the Romans were inspired by the Greeks, the artist also pulls elements from the ancients. A Mayan headdress and Egyptian wings, belong to vastly different cultures, but live harmoniously together in the exhibition's sculptural centerpiece “Zayamara”.

Inscribed on each deity, are characters from an alphabet of the artists design. The letterforms draw from ancient scripts, and the influence of Hebrew, Hindi and Latin alphabets can be observed in the carefully constructed symbols. For Porkchop, the ambiguity of the text is essential as it allows viewers to relate to the work no matter what cultural background they come from.

From Tibetan Kapala skulls to the stone skulls of Mesoamerica, the face of death has always served as a sort of mirror for the living. Porkchop's work draws inspiration from this, highlighting the universal connection we all share with the skull, thus turning it into a unifying element. By painting a skull over the bust of an Egyptian Pharaoh or the face of a converted department store mannequin, it points to the idea that underneath the surface, human beings are more similar than we often acknowledge.

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