It’s said that you should never go food shopping on an empty stomach. The same should be applied to also going to see food/art exhibitions when your tummy’s rumbling and you’re getting pretty ravenous.
This was the situation I found myself in this Saturday when I went to check out ‘L’Art de Menjar’ exhibition inside ‘La Pedrera’, the impressive Gaüdi house high on Passeig de Gràcia. The exhibition, a somewhat disjointed affair, brings together various art forms such as Baroque still lifes, modern art and video pieces under what appears to be the loose theme of ‘must include food’.
The exhibition starts and ends well. The still lifes like this 1640 Paul de Vos piece highlight forgotten foods that were once common on tables (at least amongst the aristocracy) and are no longer eaten now, peacocks and tiny birds such as blue tits to name a couple. Another still life featured ‘haws’, the fruit of the hawthorn tree which I’ve never come across other than on food history programmes.The exhibition then moves through other works by artists and photographers such as Joseph Bueys, Cildo Meireles, Hans Gissinger and Pere and Josep Santiliari.
One of my particular favourites was the plate of slowly decaying apples, pears, nectarines and grapes by Sam Taylor-Wood. The gleaming, succulent looking fruit begins to take a faint bluey/green tinge and brown bruises appear before it succumbs to the furring of mould and finally collapses.
I smiled when I saw the ‘Rock Novelty’ in the British food section by Martin Parr and wondered what the Catalan attendees made of the bland looking dishes and our seaside penchant for boiled sugar confectionary.As mentioned before the exhibition lacks a certain cohesiveness, definitely worth a look if you’re nearby or at a loose end. To book end the history we meet at the beginning of the show, the closing displays are of course the food of Catalonia’s most revered chef, Snr Adrià. The selection of photos, taken by Francesc Guillamet, are from the various catalogues produced by El Bulli recording the dishes they’ve created over the years. The photo below is not one shown at the exhibition but you get an idea of the plates of beauty they were creating there. As I neared the end my already empty belly was now crying out for something to fill it so learn from me and eat before you go or suffer the hunger pains as the images torture you whilst you absorb the art.
L’Art de Menjar at La Pedrera, Passeig de Gràcia 92, runs until 26th June 2011. Free entry.