Art: Butcher Billy – Carving Sacred Cows

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Butcher Billy cuts through society using its idols!

Precision, craft, history, it’s all in the name. Just like your neighbourhood meat market, Butcher Billy serves up fresh cuts (of commentary). “[The name] comes from the idea that I’m always slicing pieces of pop culture to bring them together in different ways.”

The native Brazilian prefers the use of American pop references but doesn’t see his work in terms of territories, opting instead for universal icons and concepts. As a child he was always interested in Western pop culture without even realising it. “Cinema, music, comics, games, history…recently people even came to me saying that I seemed to know aspects of their culture [through my art] so well that they couldn’t believe I was from another country and culture.”

Being an individual with such a unique perspective on socio-cultural concepts, it’s only natural that he would be influenced by an eclectic mix of individuals. Those who made the cut? Salvador Dalí, Stanley Kubrick, David Bowie, Frank Gehry, Banksy, Tim Burton, Nick Hornby, Bettie Page… and that’s just to name a few. “When it comes to who inspires me one way or the other… inside my head they all make sense,” Billy says. That internal mash-up produces some of his most provocative and informative work.

Heavy is the hand that holds the cleaver, and Billy has a certain responsibility with icons that people hold dear. Needless to say, it’s not a job without adversity. In the early days, his work produced backlash and outrage. He countered with persistence and a “fuck it” attitude. “I don’t mind what people think of what I do,” Billy says. “I believe that if you really love what you do, you’re going to do it so well that people notice one way or the other.”

And younger audiences in particular are taking heed. “I don’t think I use totally obscure icons or concepts, but I constantly hear from young people that they get to know more about pop culture by examining my pieces and discovering touchstones.”

Billy enjoys his freedom to work with so many different elements, a factor that has fused with his artistic identity. His Bukowski piece is one of many that exemplify his ability to meld the unusual. “I always wanted to explore the culture of quotation on the internet,” Billy says. “He’s one of my favourite authors, so it all came quite naturally.”

The recent influx of comic book movies are also a catalyst for his current attraction. “I noticed there’s a symbiotic relationship between media in which one draws from the other. Cinema obviously takes everything from comic books from 40 years ago, while the comics industry benefits from the update.”

The connection of timeless images and today’s technology has significantly changed the platform, allowing the Butcher freedom to cut things up precisely the way he wants to. “Pop art that was initially made in the ‘60s was all about making a comment on aspects of that time.

Today it doesn’t matter if you’re using computers and tablets or brushes and canvas. The current pop artists that don’t get pop art in a conceptual way fail miserably in my opinion.” Stand in line and grab a numbered Archival Print from Butcher Billy. To grab a t-shirt, bag or print head online!

words by: Catherine Lagoa