Food Galore in Baroque and Contemporary Art opens at Gammel Holtegaard

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Food Galore in Baroque and Contemporary Art opens at Gammel Holtegaard
Anna Stahn, 'Googie oyster', (2021). Foto: Brian Kure.

HOLTE.- A spitting oyster woman in a fountain, a seven-metre-long skewer with more or less edible ingredients, a disturbing washing-up scenario, rotting lemons, and paintings of decadent food displays that remind us of our own vanity. All of this and more is part of the new exhibition Food Galore – in Baroque and Contemporary Art at Gl. Holtegaard, a journey through food, food culture and art past and present.

Food Galore presents baroque paintings and new Danish contemporary art. The exhibition takes food as its theme – a surfeit of food, guilty pleasures, the sensory delight of eating and decadent feasts that make your mouth water. It also presents the flip side, looking at portrayals of food in a privileged world through the historical lens of baroque art.

Artists have painted food throughout history, shedding light on its significance as more than just fuel to keep our bodies up and running. In FOOD GALORE food is seen as a symbol, identity marker, commodity and indicator of people’s position are on the social ladder - an exhibition that challenges us to see food and meals with fresh eyes.

The starting point for the exhibition is a selection of 17th-century paintings. Five baroque painters – from Italy Felice Boselli (1650-1732), from the Netherlands Pieter Claesz (1597-1661), Gillis van Hulsdonck (1625-1669) and Frans Snijders (1579-1657), as well as Abraham Mignon (1640-1679) from Germany. All of these artists specialised in paintings of food, and contributed to them becoming an independent genre. With consummate skill they painted sumptuous displays of shellfish, fruit, bread, wine and meat, dramatically staging everything a hungry heart could desire. The paintings are charged with symbolic meaning. On the one hand they are portrayals of surplus and sensory pleasures, but on the other they are reminders of the fleeting nature of life. They provided food for thought during their lifetimes, and continue to raise issues akin to the ethical perspectives we have on food, consumer culture and lifestyle choices today.

Four Danish contemporary artists, Emily Gernild (b. 1985), Silas Inoue (b. 1981), Rolf Nowotny (b. 1978) and Anna Stahn (b. 1994), have created new baroque-inspired works for the exhibition. In sculpture, poetry, drawing, wallpaper, paintings and installations, they bring their own artistic perspectives to the food motifs of the baroque and food culture today. From questions of overconsumption, climate change, identity, desire, ideals of health and class barriers, to cultural encounters across the global map.

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