Van Gelder photographs raw meat and entrails, either as he finds it in the marketplace, or after arranging it into contorted compositions, as if staged for a formal portrait. Sinewy ligaments are stretched against planes of taught, semi-transparent flesh, ripped, sagging muscles hang loosely and knuckles and faeces jut and spurt from between incisions in the animals' skin. Whereas portraiture delves into the soul of the sitter, Van Gelder's Meat Portraits literally delve inside their subjects, exposing the findings in an unrestrained portrayal of corporeality.
In the words of the artist: "African butchers don't use electric saws as Europeans do but cut up the meat by hand which produces a variety of styles. The slaughterhouse was in the open air and in front of it a small market where they would sell the still warm meat. I worked there on and off for one year producing my Meat Portraits. I consider these portraits still lives."