Taste, Food and Feasting in Art
Auckland Art Gallery
Until February 14th
Food has been at the centre of art since the beginning. The first images created by artists were of the beasts he hunted for food. Among the first anecdotes about art is the story of the Greek artist Zeuxis who painted grapes which were so realistic that the birds tried to eat them.
The current exhibition at the Auckland Art Gallery “Taste” uses works from the gallery’s collection to show the ways which European culture in particular has developed its relationship with food.
Food, as the Taste exhibition shows has been used in art as symbol and metaphor, providing insight into cultural and social history.
One of the earliest works in the show is a Dutch seventeenth century traditional painting “Still Life: Fruit & Shellfish” by J Bourjinan Bourgeois. Such paintings were simple descriptive works but often contained complex symbolism or narratives about ideas of food, wealth, life, sex and death.
This can also be seen in the other early work in the exhibition by Pieter Breughel, The Younger “Village Feast” in which village life is shown as centred around food and eating.
This work related to the nineteenth century New Zealand work by Gottfried Lindauer “The Time of Kai” in which Maori are depicted eating in an ethnographic recreation of marae life.
Similar works of contemporary society can be seen in Garth Tapper’s “Five O’clock” depicting the mid twentieth century six o’clock swill ambience.
There are other New Zealand works such as Jacqui Faheys “Final Domestic Expose – I Paint Myself”, her feminist reworking of Manets “Dejeuner sur l’herbe”
Peter Peryer’s set of photographs; “Neenish Tarts”, “Doughnuts” and “Swiss Rolls” have become well known images of New Zealand and take on a symbolic association which is more than just the illustration of the cakes. So too his image “Trout Lake Taupo” is an image which conjures up various notions about our relationship with food and hunting.
Other works have become almost icons of New Zealand art such as Dick Frizzell’s "Black Geisha”, his enlarged tinned mackerel
There are a couple of Sylvia Siddell works including the large drawing “Off To Work” depicting a chaos of kitchen implements and food.
Billy Apple’s three apples “2 Minutes and 33 seconds” which are recreation of the process and the time it took him to eat an apple is one of the smarter works which combine art and food having a similar power and pop art quality as Andy Warhol’s “Campbell Tomato Soup Can” print.
Some of the works only just slip in to the exhibition but it is a useful opportunity for the gallery to show off the collection with such works as Jorge Immendorf’s “Readymade de I'histoire dans Café de Flore”, which features several major artists supping at a cafe and connects nicely with the series of Brian Brake photographs of Picasso at a cafe with friends
Surprising given the symbolism around food, pagan sacrifice and Christianity that there are not more works which focus on the way in which Christians have symbolically eaten God.
Tue, 05 Jan 2010