The patchwork blanket created by Adriano Costa, contemporary Brazilian artist, takes up the tradition of joining different parts of fabric, usually square in shape, but applies it to material and ideological choices that characterize his research. He alternates criticism of current events and pungent irony, generating contemporary visions: painting and sculpture coexist with new formal solutions pushing forward an experimentation of an alternative convention of the respective languages. The squares of fabric that distinguish the patchwork are replaced by sections of animal skin: the blanket is stretched from a large wooden frame, almost two meters high, and subsequently Costa, using a spray can, smears this blanket with a tag: my boyfriend is vegan.

The Butcher’s Arms (2016) is the work of the Brazilian artist who, playing on the identification of the everyday object, creates a short circuit through the combination of different elements. In this case the grandmother’s blanket is transformed into a grotesque tapestry but at the same time it could be a flag used in an animal rights demonstration as a scream of protest. Remaining in an area of doubt in which it is difficult to establish how much it is the object and how much it is the work of art that characterizes this strange artifact, Costa suggests an anarchic and idiosyncratic culture with the same subtlety and punctuality with which a comedian would speak of politics during a Stand Up Comedy: My boyfriend is vegan reaches our eyes as a biting joke in which it is difficult to recognize the line between mockery and a critical comment. Playing on this boundary line, the artist manages to create a stratified work in which the materials chosen and the language used communicate.

Minimal and committed, formalist but also punk, Adriano Costa presents with The Butcher’s Arms a gesture characterized by a subversive humour: the contemporary debate on food choices and the protection of animal rights is brought back to the object dimension of a blanket within the artistic dimension. And then the vortex of hidden references and allusions widens even more: is it possible to adapt these dynamics of rebellion and political confrontation within the sphere of art? Who is the butcher? Who is the animal instead? From this point of view, the artist’s gesture almost becomes a gesture of sacrifice and profound criticism: from the Stand Up Comedy we move to the street to smear the walls and make our voices heard. Costa with the assembly of simple gestures and materials is able to lead the observer in a multitude of dimensions and narratives: the firmness of the everyday object finds a rediscovered vitality in the work of art.

Adriano Costa
The butcher’s Arms, 2016
Spray paint and leather mounted on wood
198,1 x 147,3 x 6,4 cm
Courtesy Mendes Wood DM