Food photography is a deceptive business. To create the gelatinous, juicy-looking glazes and succulent hues necessary to truly whet a reader’s appetite, the food stylist must employ ingredients you wouldn’t put down your neck in a hurry. Shower gel, engine oil and wood stain are amongst the behind-the-scenes secrets of those mouth-watering Sunday supplement images.
Rising young art star Nicolas Deshayes has fully embraced the process in his recreations of lifestyle magazine cookery pages, Supplement 1-9 series. The delights he offers us include the velvety rumples of an artichoke’s leaves, a crisped coating of toasted parmesan clinging to an oyster shell and the glimmering skin of a silvery grilled fish. Deshayes presents these glutinously rich, queasily sexual images on book-like aluminium supports: hard, brittle lightweight skins. It’s a perusal of surface and substance that riffs on different notions of taste, of the mind and the mouth, and what is forever being lost in between.
Two of these food-related works are currently included in the sculpture show, The Shape We’re In, alongside a number of other pieces by the recent Royal College graduate. Deshayes’ Public Work (1 & 2) is a pair of gleaming minimalist wall pieces in wipe-clean stainless steel. The first thing they make you think of though is a urinal: sections of their curved surfaces seem to have been blasted by a hot stream of piss and the metal shines with artful drips. Like the food photography they provoke the bodily and yet repel it, in their perfect designer surfaces.