The eyes of the artist penetrate the artifice of this world. They look for connections between realities. Tensions that need to be amplified with a flick of color or a unique angle. It is this sensibility which gives Andy Warhol his power. A single image: a skull on a table; Marilyn Monroe; an electric chair. Images which repeatedly appear with alternating hues. Darks become light. Mossy greens fade to cold gray.
In isolation, each piece reaches deep into our emotional center. Hung together we see Warhol’s intellect at play. One image and dozens of variations.
This one haunts us with dramatic light and Macbeth’s red finger prints. This other, the exact same image mocked up with pastels dramatizes the dull pain of Wuthering Heights and Balthus weighty serenity.
A few weeks ago, we made an argument for contrast when plating dishes. A careful combination could make something already delicious sparkle like a diamond.
Let’s play with an image captured at Cotogna. As you remember, the culinary tricksters arranged fresh figs and silky prosciutto on a pea green plate. What if they reached for a white plate? Would it carry the same electrical charge?
Or maybe that beautiful plum color dish. The one which turned papparadelli into a Titian painting?
Clearly the color of the white plate loses some of the gunpowder in the portraying the lusciousness of the dish. However the deep purple does highlight the ham and fruit well. Might it be because the purple is a dark cool color?
Would the dish carry the same effect on a ruby plate? Red on red. Now we are talking about particle stacking. Layering for impact.
That out of the way, let’s hopscotch our way through a few ideas. Let’s unbridle the imagination.
How about Paula Deen helping out with her own Southern touch?
Or the artist as big time hunter?
Might it be unreasonable to present this appetizer at a birthday party for girls?
Would the mash up with china blue set the right tone?
Clearly color and texture are factors. Since the prosciutto and figs, the principle ingredients are fleshy red. Let’s try a dull, earthy tone. Yes the plate subdues the presentation in this case. This might be a move to take hipster elegance to picnic table diplomacy. The soft feel of brown butcher paper of a crawfish boil.
One step further. A rustic presentation against wood.
Maybe bamboo countertop? No?
Then a dance between shaved meat and Texas limestone.
Not convinced? Take it one step further. Away from natural fibers and found stone. Let’s serve up proscuitto on forged steel. Angular and cold. Precise in all of it’s fabrication. And reflective of it’s surroundings.
Yep. It’s not the same dish. The clothes make the man.
And now we are back at home base.
The point is this: these are all choices. They are knobs to turn. While you experiment with what’s in the pot, be thinking about how you frame it for your audience. Material, color, contrast, texture are ingredients in the recipe too.
Use them wisely.
And by all means, please share. Show us the miracle plating. Let’s see what’s in your paintbox.