A TASTE OF ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM

Text by Bia

Last summer, while Anna was researching different art movements, she pitched ideas based on those movements as potential concepts for the project. The spontaneity and the colourful shades in some Abstract Expressionist paintings instantly drew my attention and I decided to make a dish inspired by them. 

While looking at Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still’s oeuvre and contemplating the colours present in many of their works, I started to analyse the thoughts, sensations and words that I associated with their paintings. Some of the words that came up were intensity, dim light and ember.

Slowly, I started to create a main dish. It was going to be warm and smoky, with some acidity, crunchiness and sweetness. So, I had the idea to prepare a pork belly (smokiness), with cavolo nero, breadcrumbs (crunchiness), pickled ginger (acidity) and sweet potato (sweetness).

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Throughout the project, we realised that we were too focused on the gastronomic aspect of our work, and photography had become a detail, an illustration of my recipes. 

 

At the same time, we started to challenge ourselves and learn about new ways to perceive and experience food. Up until then, we had never been to a fine dining restaurant, where the menu has a strong concept and the experience goes way beyond the food itself. Taking into consideration our work and our focus on simplicity and minimalism, we decided to go to Noma, in Copenhagen, and luckily we were able to book a table.

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We were incredibly eager with the opportunity, already planning on registering every single moment, taking notes and absorbing as much information as possible. However, once the food started to arrive, we understood that no photo would be able to translate the experience of each dish. All of the dishes were beautifully plated in a rather simple way, since Noma, one of the pioneers of the New Nordic Cuisine, focuses mostly on the quality of seasonal ingredients.

 

We realised that Felipe’s work in the project wasn’t illustrating the food that I made, but rather visually interpreting the concept and sensorial experience of these recipes. As I was really satisfied with the result of my dish inspired by Abstract Expressionism, I suggested that he would express this dish visually. 

 

Felipe felt that although its flavours were intense, because of the pork belly and the ginger, the dish was still balanced and subtle. To express that, he built a structure out of sticks, in which the main element would be balanced by four points of support - making reference to the five elements of the dish. This structure, despite its sharp edge, would give support to a soap bubble, referencing the delicate balance of the dish.

When Felipe was done with the picture, despite following the brief, he felt that he had not explored the image’s full potential. Anna and I suggested that he should let his creativity run freely. The final result, although following the initial concept, had become a more abstract and authentic expression of the idea. Hence, we realised that we should follow our ideas as they came and not be so attached to our initial plan.

Click here for the recipe and here for the limited edition print of the final picture.

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