February 2nd, 2011 | by RACHAEL DEWITT Arts & Books | Posted In: Visual Arts

Hail to the Presidential Ham

PresidentialHamPresidential Ham: Barack Obama - By Bijijoo.

It seems Portland's obsession with pork has reached a new high. On exhibit inside Powell's is a series of presidential portraits with all 44 Presidents proudly embracing a large, pink leg of cured pig. With a detailed and lifelike hand, the series by  local artist "Bijijoo" is hilarious and deadpan, simultaneously presenting and mocking presidential decorum. The show runs through the end of February, and kicks off during First Thursday (this Thursday, Feb. 3). On Thursday, from 6:30-8:30 pm, there will be a ham and a photo booth available to anyone who arrives in presidential attire.

Presidential Ham isn’t Bijijoo’s only body of meticulous portraiture; his “Faces of Justin Timberlake and Divination Thereby” series contains 49 distinct portraits of the pop music icon.

Bijijoo comes to fine art by way of a PhD in chemistry. He told Paste Magazine, “I guess I’ve always been kind of—it sounds stupid, but—an artist at heart or something.—Science is all right, but I’m not interested in becoming a professor or anything like that. I don’t really like academia.”

He was turned on the path of pork painting while pulling a prank on a friend. The prank is called “larding.” "Larding evolved into the act of leaving unusual items at an unsuspecting person’s home in order to surprise and astonish," he explains. "In 2006, a huge portrait of Richard Nixon cradling a ham was completed and gifted to the friend. Following the completion of that painting, years were spent practicing painting techniques and researching the characters and physical characteristics of the presidents in preparation for undertaking the full project."

It’s only a matter of time before we see Carrie Brownstein leaving a block of lard on Fred Armisen’s porch on IFC—this is grist for the Portlandia mill.

 
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