In a New Book, Food and Sensuality Become Art

By Maria Popova

A recipe for something nice to put on your coffee table: mix one part fresh fruits and vegetables and one part nude bodies

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Food is fundamental. But for Italian artist Tiberio Simone, it's much more: It's a medium of creative expression, a sensory portal to truth, beauty, and sensuality. His La Figa: Visions of Food and Form is nothing short of a feast for the senses, celebrating two of the most primal human hungers and pleasures while elevating both through the artistic lens of a true creative visionary using the human body as his canvas and food as his paintbrush. Simone's edible masterpieces, which remained ephemeral until he collaborated with photographer Matt Freedman, spring to life from the page, extending an alluring come-hither invitation to reconnect with our own understanding of food, sexuality, and how the two feed one another.

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Alongside the luscious and playful images are imaginative essays and delicious, uncommon recipes that amplify the experiential delight of Simone's work.

"'Only those who will risk going too far can possibly know how far one can go,' wrote T. S. Eliot. In La Figa, Tiberio and Matt transport us with their provocative and mesmerizing photographs to a place where a simple fruit, combined with the basic human form, explodes our senses--from a pomegranate bikini to rolling hills of ingredient-covered hips. I, for one, will never think of seaweed or avocado in the same way. La Figa invites us to pierce through mundane living and savor the basic ingredients of life." Nassim Nassefi, M.D.

Tiberio on La Figa from Dan McComb on Vimeo.


La Figa Project: Mushroom Hunting from Dan McComb on Vimeo.


Filmmaker Dan McComb has created a handful of wonderful, artful, poetic segments on Simone and the La Figa project that bespeak the incredible passion with which Simone approaches his work.

But what makes Simone all the more interesting as a creator and someone filled with such exuberant positivity is the grim story that led him there. After a childhood of abuse and grueling work on his father's farm, he became a prostitute, until he finally found solace in the kitchen and eventually discovered food art as his true calling and his salvation. Watch him tell his remarkable story in this excellent talk from TEDxRainier:



With over 160 lavish full-color images, 20 mouth-watering recipes, and 40 essays on food, love, and life, La Figa is a genuine treat for the senses and an invitation to approach something that's been overly functionalized and commodified with a little bit more playfulness, poignancy, and poetry.


This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Images: Book Publishers Network

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/06/in-a-new-book-food-and-sensuality-become-art/240186/