Peter Hawkin’s style is affected by the fact that he does his paintings on found surfaces rather than on canvas. The desks and wooden surfaces he paints on don’t just act as blank surfaces, their own markings constrain and affect what and how peter paints on them. In Sugar High macaroons float alongside space stations and an astronaut, all against a wooden backdrop, which is obvious to the viewer is a table, resulting in a surreal effect.
Food captures the zeitgeist of a culture, since different food items can be powerful expressers of values and beliefs. For cultures around the world, food is inseparable from human history. Some of the most iconic food art was painted during ancient Greek and Roman times, the depiction of great banquets sending messages of health, wellbeing and privilege.
Food art goes back a long way and although it’s more commonly seen in photography and still life painting, food has always been an exciting material for conceptual artists, who see its perishable nature as something to be experimented with. Fresh fruit and vegetables are especially interesting since they add a temporal dimension to art installations.
The recent conceptual artwork, The Comedian, by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan caused a huge stir and was dubbed by the media as “The $120 000 Art Basel Banana.” The work was a ripe banana duct taped to a wall. For art critics its genius was in drawing out the mainstream media’s suspicion that “all contemporary art is a type of emperor’s new clothes foisted on rich people.” During its installation, another artist, David Datuna walked up to the banana and ate it, and that caused another huge stir. Afterwards he commented: “Art performance by me. I love Maurizio Cattelan artwork and I really love this installation. It’s very delicious.” Duchampian in nature, it’s the ridiculousness critics say this food art was all about.
Roy Lichtenstein is perhaps one of the most iconic food artists yet. His screen print Sandwich and Soda parodied American advertising conventions and commented on industrialisation and patriotism of the time. Andy Warhol also used food items in his prints, except he believed that mass-produced products were a great equaliser for everyday people. It’s with this in mind that art historians believe he endlessly reproduced Campbells Soup Cans.