Some thoughts of Salvatore Zofrea on food and art

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Salvatore Zofrea was born in Borgia, Italy and moved to Australia when he was nine years of age. He was awarded the Sulman Prize in 1977, 1979 and 1982 and his work is held in many private and public collections, including the Vatican and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1995, he was awarded the title of Cavalieri by the Italian Government in recognition of his contribution to art in Australia.

Here are some of his words on the relationship between food and art….

“What more could you have than a meal, a humble plate of food, for friends and family to share? Could there be a more simple way to connect, when connecting is often so hard.

The meal is a spiritual experience for me. I see the dish on the table as the link that brings everyone together to become one. It goes back to the Bible with the Last Supper and the breaking of bread. We eat the same food. We share the same spirit. Like then, it is now – nothing has changed. The human heart remains the same.

In my painting, I often depict the family gathering. Like the Hindu bracelet of diamonds in which each bead reflects all the others, a similar thread of emotion unifies the family as they sit and eat around a table. The individuality of each brother and sister is accepted or contested, reflected through an understanding that we all come from the same mother. There will always be disputes among the family unit, conflicts of opinions. But when mother places food on the table, on a spiritual level, the family reunites.

In scenes where people are eating, the food that I place on the canvas is always food that I have cooked and enjoyed myself. Whether it’s a pasta, fish or meat dish makes little difference to me. It’s the understanding that’s important. In Vincent van Gogh’s The Potato Eaters a humble meal of potatoes and coffee is shared in a rustic setting. For all it expresses and everything it stands for, this is my favourite depiction of food in art.”

(Extract taken from The Artist’s Lunch – Alice McCormack Sarah Rhodes)

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