Jane Alexander, hybrid

Jane Alexander is a South-African artist. She was born in Johannesburg in 1959. She lives and works in Cape Town. She’s best known for her The Butcher Boys.



The Butcher Boys is composed of three life-size deformed men sculptures. They are three male grotesque hybrids of human and animal forms, with protruding horns, sealed-up mouths and burning eyes. In this work, the artist accomplishes to produce a sentiment of discomfort and repugnance that she links with the human bestiality in violence. Although she was not active in the resistance movement, Alexander’s work has always been influenced by the political and social character of South Africa. She explains, “… my themes are drawn from the relationship of individuals to hierarchies and the presence of aggression, violence, victimisation, power and subservience, and from the paradoxical relationships of these conditions to each other. The content I work with is derived from a combination of observation, media information and the experience.”





Jane Alexander’s figures are a sort of new hybrid, half-human, half-bestial, like in the Medieval’s Bestiaries. Creatures from subconscious. She has been exhibiting internationally since the early 1990s. The Butcher Boys has received widespread recognition. It is probably the most popular contemporary piece in the collection of the South African National Gallery, and it was chosen by Jean Clair for his show ‘Identità e Alterità’ (‘Identity and Alterity’) in the Palazzo Grassi at the 1995 Venice Biennale.

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