“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”, said Virginia Woolf. The icon of literary sorrow and emotional agony herself, even Woolf knew that food is food. When there is no one out there or when even the insane world of New York art scene doesn’t help anymore; there is food.
Like art, food is another link that reminds us (or at least me) that we are ‘living’. It is sensual, it is private and it is captivating; so much that you let it go through your esophagus all the way down. In a way, you trust that your food will do you good and you let it go. You let your food take over your body and mind. That is why art and food to me seem similar: we don’t depend on them to survive (I am not talking about biting into a some kind of food to stay alive, I am talking about Food), but we depend on them to make us remember that we are still alive.
Since art and food carry such a strong bond for me, I have realized I already put them into an incestuous relationship in my mind. Some artists are like some types of food in my head. I was surprised to see how, like I do my favorites foods, I code some artists in my mind with certain flavors they evoke in my head.
For example, one of my favorite artists in the world is Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Thinking about Torres always leaves me with some kind of calmness in the end. No matter how intense or empowering his works are, they always end up bringing some undefined tranquility to the conversation. His works are always calm and sedative, hence carry more compact meanings beneath; meanings that are harsh and somehow crunchy.
This whole description, as much as it fits into Torres’ work, fits into rice pudding as well. Imagine a rice pudding–white, clean and all mellow looking–it looks like a safe trip above in the clouds. With every bite however one tastes all that crunchy rice and zesty orange peel. The mildness of the cooked milk is contrasted with the firmness of all that sharp rice. Like Torres’ quiet, comforting but provoking oeuvre, a good rice pudding is soft, peaceful yet poking.
There is also Frida Kahlo who is the embodiment of emotional agony and artistic sorrow just like Virginia Woolf. No matter how festive and colorful they might seem to be, Kahlo’s paintings symbolize her personal history which is full of physical and emotional anguish.
Kahlo’s native dish burrito has some kind of a similar impression on me with its complex taste which combines many flavors that go from sweet to hot. In Kahlo’s paintings, I always get the impression that she is using all those colors to heal the pain, but at the same time, it is obvious that she can’t help being cheerful to celebrate life and everything that it brings about.
Like the red salsa in a burrito, colors add intensity and joy to her paintings, but there is also jalapeño in a burrito. Similar to the heat in a burrito, pain is indispensable in her paintings in a way that they turn into some uncommon celebration of life. Also similar to a burrito, many ingredients of Kahlo’s paintings are all mixed together with their intense flavors to create a coherence that make each flavor unique yet harmonious.
Maurizio Cattelan, on the other hand, is looking at life from a different angle: witty, jocular and sarcastic in his own mischievous ways. Cattelan has gained recognition and notability through his uncompromising nature in the art world. By adopting the role of modern day Pagliaccio, Cattelan turned the set taboos upside down and made it hard not to be opinionated about his works in some way. Looking at his ‘apologizing Hitler‘ or ‘suicidal Pinocchio‘ sculptures confronts us with his artistic wit and joy while testing our understanding of what guilty pleasure is.
Speaking of man’s test with guilty pleasures, cupcakes with their mountainous frosting and velvety bottoms have been making modern man question his willpower. A cupcake is always naughty, reckless and, let’s be honest, striking. At the most unexpected moment, a cupcake arises and turns the calm into chaos. The moment you think you have finished all of the frosting, in the middle of the bottom cake, you find a little bit of the same frosting hidden and you start grinning (Warning: this secret frosting inside moment might happen only if you’re eating at my favorite NYC bakery, Two Little Red Hens).
Cattelan’s works, similar to a wicked cupcake’s attack to a mouth, turns every white cube they are installed at into a spectacle of frenzy and leave us with a similar grin on our faces.
After all that thought about food and art, I need two things for the rest of today: a good exhibition to check out and a good dinner to tuck into. Also the big question that is still waiting to be answered in my life: who is ‘the wine‘ for me among all those artist that I love?