Over the last few years, artist Nicola Costantino has been busy recreating Hieronymus Bosch’s masterpiece “Garden of Earthly Delights” through what she calls “Art of Food”, a fully edible art experience that engages the spectators’ five senses.
To write about Bosch’s triptych masterpiece (three-paneled) housed at the El Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain is -according to experts- an exercise in madness as there is very little agreement as to the precise meaning of the work. Nonetheless, the innovative contemporary Latino artist Costantino will assert there are a few points that can be made with certainty before it all unravels. “It is so mysterious, so critical, so impossible to decipher. But Bosch was the first artist to paint images of the unconscious.” -she declares. “The irony of it is that such images could not be interpreted until the 20th century when psychoanalytic theories were developed.” Bosch’s work has often been construed as an admonition against fleshly and worldly indulgence, but that seems a rather mundane purpose to assign to a highly idiosyncratic and expressively detailed tour-de-force.
The Fountain of Life actually existed
To the casual art enthusiast, the beautiful pink fountain painted on the left panel of the Garden of Earthly Delights -a.k.a. “The Fountain of Life”- might first strike as a product of Bosch’s fertile imagination. Yet, there is evidence that the fountain on the painting was actually a real thing. To what Nicola will quickly add – “What I did was to change the origin of it, I made it as true to the real fountain as possible and I present it around a sort of garden that’s like a whimsical paradise.” In Costantino’s Art of Food exhibition, the Fountain of Life towers over everything else, supreme, at more than twenty feet high. One can’t help but wonder how it was constructed – “I made it with 3D printing, modeling in 3D first, but then the finish is not perceived to be a 3D printing because it is finished as if it were a stone, even a stone eroded by time through polyester resin,” -the artist explains. Surrounding the Fountain of Life there’s a cornucopia that offers the Art of Food’s spectator everything earth has to offer, from food to nature and flora. “What I want is for people to feel it in their body. It will probably be something that they see only once in their lifetime and what I want is for that memory to be tangible and beautiful,” -adds Nicola Costantino.
Notes on memory and Lexus
Beyond the baffling beauty of Art of Food as a whole, there is an underlying theme that the artist clearly intends us to grasp. “What interests me now is the artistic experience. The artistic experience is to me more important than owning possessions,” -she declares. Which immediately makes us wonder about the immaculate Lexus ES 350 stationed amid the exhibition. “I’m always interested in returning to sensations, that is why I created this experience with food while also rethinking what makes a work of art” – she shares. “Whether eating something very tasty or driving a Lexus, which sends a chill inside our body which we can feel, it is all -indeed- part of an artistic experience”.