If you ever find yourself having to convince someone that anything is possible, just tell them about a Pigcasso, a 450 pound (204 kg) pig who, after being rescued from a South African slaughterhouse at four weeks old, went on to become an acclaimed painter.
South African animal-rights activist Joanne Lefson adopted Pigcasso after rescuing her from a grim fate at the slaughterhouse, a couple of years ago. She took the animal back to her farm and offered her a variety of toys to keep her entertained. Among those toys were some paintbrushes, and the pig became so fascinated with them that she ignored all her other toys. Lefson decided to leave out some paint and canvas as well to see what the animal would do. Believe it or not, she started painting.
Pigcasso loves dipping the brush in paint and dragging it across the canvas. She has shown such passion and talent that she now has a personal gallery at the animal rescue farm that has become her home. But with art collectors paying up to $2,000 to get their hands on an original Pigcasso, adding new artworks to her collection has become quite difficult.
“I do not force her to paint. She paints when she wants to,’’ Lefson told Caters News. “Often, we pack an overloaded picnic basket and she pigs out on organic strawberries, guavas, and caramel-coated popcorn in between brush strokes. For Pigcasso, it’s simply hog heaven.’’
“[Pigcasso’s] art is probably what you’d call expressionist,’’ Lefson added.
Pigs are curious animals that are keen on exploration. In a domestic setting, they need some form of enrichment, such as tricks or toys, to keep them from getting bored. Bored animals can quickly become unhappy and destructive. Balls are the most common entertainment for pigs, as well as dog tricks like sitting or responding to their name. Painting, however, is a new one altogether. Pigs, like many other animals, are dichromats, meaning that they only have two types of light-receiving cones in their eyes (humans are trichromats). Although they aren’t precisely colorblind, they cannot perceive the color red and can see fewer shades of green and blue than humans can.
Right now, Pigcasso is the world’s only known painting pig. Lefson is hoping that her pet’s notoriety as an accomplished artist will convince more people that pigs are “amazingly intelligent, exceptional animals’’ that deserve a better fate than the slaughterhouse. She is hoping that “the finest galleries in New York and Paris’’ might one day exhibit her protégé’s art.