We spoke with artist Ruben Lartigue from Buenos Aires about his unique series of ‘manimal’ paintings which he calls his ‘Chicos Lartigue’. 

What inspired you to create this Chicos Lartigue series? 

My Inspiration comes from vindicating the body of man within art. We have become endearingly insensitive to the beauty of male bodies. There is a false conviction that only homosexuals enjoy it. It is inadmissible that the painting of a male body can also be the object of heterosexual desire.

Painting is a private journey of the artist who does it. I feel that my painting is poetry in images. My artistic reasoning comes from observations. I have always had an affinity for all animals that is why they are an important element in my paintings. Humans are not the most perfect beings in this world. We believe ourselves rational and with greater intelligence but we are the only ones who destroy the place where we all exist. The “Chicos Lartigue” were simply born and as in every birth there is a mythical reason, not a rational study in the choice, but a creative intuition. I place these “animal heads” on human bodies to create a pristine army of Chicos Lartigue.

Over a hundred years ago, directors of the major museums and owners of prominent art galleries decided that the object to be represented in art should be the female figure, prioritising it over the male ones. This created a gender bias that still exists today in the art world. 

How do you choose the human model to combine with the head of an animal? 

The combination is both intuitive and imaginative. Without honesty there is no creativity.  My work does not go through an intellectual equation at the time of creating, but rather visceral, it is from emotion, eroticism and pleasure. This is how the Chicos Lartigue are born.  

How are the models selected for this project?

I select the models because of their attitude and their kinetic-body intelligence. They are all naturally sexy, some of them friends and others strangers. My guys come from a wide variety of backgrounds – taxi drivers, fashion models or porn actors. l have painted Francois Sagat with a bear head, Leo Giamani with the eagle head and Coca Cola and Pepsi behind him. Currently, I’m working on a painting with Tim Kruger. 

What do the different animal heads symbolize?

There is no particular symbolism or mythology. It depends on the personality of the model, the posture, its image, its strength or simply the game I want to create in the work. 

We like the image of the figure tattooed with the head of a dog, tell us more about this painting.

I like that work very much, the position of his languid body, a certain reluctance, with a series of revealing tattoos that tell a story about the character. We see some tentacles that come from the back suggesting an octopus reaching around from behind. This refers a little to the baggage that we all carry. The greyhound’s head a dog so delicate, and fragile, alone with its history. He is seated in front of a colourful but uncertain background. This represents loneliness, melancholy and uncertainty.

Are any of these self-portraits?

There is a self-portrait quota in all of them. We are the Chicos Lartigue!


What’s next for Ruben Lartigue?

I had an exhibition then an artist’s residency in Grez Sur Loing, France at the charming Chevillon Hotel. This is an important place in art history. It is where foreign artists and intellectuals gathered and worked when Paris was the center of the art world.  This past October I presented a solo exhibition at the Schwules Museum of the ‘Chicos Lartigue’. Both the “Chicos Lartigue” and I are conquerors. What follows is the continuous quest. Whatever comes next we will be ready for it!

Follow Ruben on Instagram: @ruben_lartigue