I'm a colour junkie.
And I love food. Now when both combine in a visual feast, I'm in heaven!
Which is why I LOVED LOVED LOVED the new John Olsen "Culinaria: Cuisine of the Sun" exhibition I saw this weekend at the Tim Olsen Gallery in Woollahra, as part of Art Month Sydney. I loved the warm, flamboyant colours on display as well as the fact that the paintings were named after John Olsen's favourite dishes, such as paella, coq au vin, squid ink risotto and duck a l'orange. I understand this sort of painting is not to everyone's taste, but I find it utterly energizing...
"The Bouillabaisse", or how Olsen turns his favourite recipes into stunning landscapes
Viva Espana! close-up of "The Suckling Pig"
John Olsen, Australia's greatest living artist, has nursed a lifelong passion for food. As a young artist, he travelled through Spain and Europe with a copy of Elizabeth David's Mediterranean cookbook under his arm, meeting with Cubist masters such as Picasso and Braque. While visiting the famous Boqueria food market off Las Ramblas in Barcelona, John said he had an epiphany.
"I loved the surrealist scene of saffron-coloured chickens and ducks, Catalan pimento sausages, black and white studded blood sausages, vegetables of vivid green and red, zucchinis, onions and eggplants," he recalls.
He later got to work in a restaurant in Mallorca as as a cooking hand and fell in love with Spanish cuisine.
"John became fascinated by how elements melded together, onions, tomatoes, splashes of golden olive oil, wine, chorizo... he thought it was alchemy," John Olsen's son and gallery owner Tim Olsen explains. "These sensations, these visions have never left him."
"Canard a L'Orange"
Which got me thinking about the relationship between food and art - and how some dishes can be amazing works of art sometimes... This is the feeling I got at El Bulli, when I went there with my fiance late last year. I've been sitting on my pictures from there for a couple of months now (I wanted to be able to find a different story angle), so I'll tackle a funny exercise and write a post about the different paintings and artworks each dish at El Bulli reminded me of. Stay tuned!
John Olsen, close-up "Duck a l'Orange"
PS to my lovely future husband: honey, the Tim Olsen Gallery also does wedding registry, and the Duck a l'Orange painting would look SUPER cool in our living room! At $380,000, it's a tad expensive, I'll give it to you, but what won't you do for your lovely wife-to-be, right?!
The John Olsen exhibition is at the Tim Olsen Gallery from 3-21 March 2010.
63 Jersey Road, Woollahra, Sydney. www.timolsengallery.com. P: 02 9327 3922.