I always enjoy creating paintings inspired by the Chinese Zodiac. This year is the year of the pig, & as I’m quite fond of pigs (particularly piglets) I was excited about this one. It ended up being more than a little late for the Lunar New Year, but maybe that’s because I found myself doing two paintings in one!
Pig/Latin started out with a sketch of a flying pig, inspired of course by the familiar figure of speech. But a pig with angelic wings, ascending blissfully to the heavens, reminded me of the uncomfortable fact that an awful lot of pigs die for our gustatory pleasure. Now, I can’t deny that bacon is delicious (even to me, a somewhat reluctant omnivore after many years as a vegetarian). But pigs themselves are so lively & clever, it just seems strange that most people think of them only as a food source.
Because I feel so torn about this issue, it occurred to me to create a diptych. In the top panel, I painted the glorified flying pig. I was delighted to find an eloquent discussion of hog intelligence in one of my volumes of Animate Creation, 1898, which I used as the background text of the painting, along with a faint overlay of a Gustave Dore engraving. (If you’d like to see a brief video of pig-painting in process, please check it out on my Instagram page.)
In the lower, terrestrial panel, there is the tempting & tasty bacon. In the memento mori tradition, I also included a rather porky medieval-style banner reading “Sic transit gloria porci” –Latin for “Thus passes the glory of the pig.” (Of course, this is a variant of “Sic transit gloria mundi.”) And in the frying pan, there are instructions for cooking bacon, scanned from an antique cookbook.
I used birch wood cradled panels as a support for this one instead of my usual stretched canvas, so that the two paintings could be stacked on a shelf without wobbling, but they can also be displayed singly if you prefer your bacon sans angel or vice-versa.
The “frame” is trompe-l’oeil– I scanned a real frame, printed it faintly onto the archival paper that I use for the text, then painted it in red oxide with accents of metallic gold, shaded to accentuate the carving. The sides of the panel are painted to blend with the faux frame, as you can see in the right side of the photo above.