14 Italian chefs were asked to prepare their dishes inspired by the art of pictorial painting. These compositions where then placed on a transparent “canvas” and then photographed by Alfonso Catalano.
The transparent canvas upon which the ingredients where placed turned the works into translucent paintings.
We talked to Alfonso about this project:
Q. Can you tell me a little about you? Describe yourself in 3 words.
A. Versatile, curious and ironic.
Q. How do your approach the idea of photographing food?
A. I am not known as a ” food” photographer per se. My general approach is to always use original ideas and techniques to express an idea.
Chef Enrico Cerea
Q. What do look for when taking a picture?
A. When I make the photo I pay a lot of attention to the composition. In general to the border of an image. I always ensure that an image has to contain a balanced between its aesthetic value and the need to illustrate the content in a clear way.
Q. If there are any pointers that you could give an aspiring food photographer what would they be?
A. To keep grounded while and to taking risks and being tough. In my career I have seen many “one hit wonders” – that try, find things to much of a challenge and then give up. If you have to make a living as a photographer, you have to remember that it is a demanding job that requires a lot of perseverance and self-sacrifice. The efforts are bearable if you are motivated by a deep passion.
Q. Can you talk about the conceptual process in representing the tastes of food in your pictures?
A. For Colortaste my inspiration was the abstract art of the 1900s, and looking at the work of great chefs, their artistic gestures, such as the action paintings of Pollock. So I asked the cooks to use ingredients like pure color, to turn their creations into works, their recipes into paintings; evoking the atmosphere of the paintings from the 1900s to become painters and to see their works as compositions.
I wanted to turn the kitchen into a laboratory; of a mixing up of the senses, where taste, sight, smell… it’s a known, in fact, that you eat with your eyes.
Q. Having seen some of your photography work, it makes sense some major influences for you would be painters. Is there something in particular you’ve taken from each?
A. For Colortaste what inspired me were the greatest exponents of abstraction of 1900s. Painters such as Kandinsky, Mondrian, and then again Lucio Fontana and Jackson Pollock. Finally, in more general terms when considering the play of light, I always think of Caravaggio’s paintings.
Paintings by (from top left to right, from beneath left to right):
1. & 2. – Kandinsky, 3. Piet Mondrian, 4. Pollock
Q. If you had to pick a favorite camera…what would it be?
A. In general, for the enormous versatility, I use cameras with a small format size ; Normally I go for the the latest Nikon cameras (Nikon D4). For special commissions I use the medium format cameras (that I use only for particular jobs) its with ‘Digital Dorse Phase One’.
Q. What’s the most fun you’ve had on a set?
A. Photographing the chef Valeria Piccini – during the various attempts to photograph of her famous “Stuffed Gnocchi” dish. In trying to obtain the perfect “stain” and taken in by the force of time, even my jacket turned into a palette.