Fabrizio Sclavi has a colourful, fairy-tale like approach when explaining the coffee theme at the Pitti Taste exhibition. In his food portraits, Sclavi expresses the exuberant richness of colour and the disenchantment of those who see beyond. The pleasure of food is shown as a vision of a table set ... with illustrations! His works are presented in the hallway and in the square between the Leopolda Station and the Opera House.
We asked Fabrizio Sclavi to tell us a bit more about his project. Here's what he told us.
Can you tell us some more about your project and where the notion for this installation comes from? What is the idea behind your drawings? You have a colourful and almost fairy-tale approach to telling a story about coffee. Can you tell us where this journey begins?
The installation is enormous, with fourteen panels that measure 2x6 metres each. An entire square invaded with my drawings. I have always dreamed of being like Gulliver and drawing gigantic pictures.
Fourteen pictures tell the story, in my own way, of the journey of coffee from when the precious beans are still on the plants in Brazil and Africa. Faraway places that conjure up images of tropical colours, of parrots and fantastic perfumed flowers. These beans are portrayed in my drawings, where they pass through the hands of skilled farmers and end up in the hessian sacks. The story continues as the sacks full of freshly picked coffee beans are loaded onto steamboats and transported towards our harbours. Once toasted, the beans become aromatic and crunchy, full of that wonderful coffee smell that wakes us up with a smile every morning. The cups are filled with fragrant, brown nectar. Here the story ends in Florence, the homeland of taste.
In what way does the culture for good food and drink connect to colours? How can food stimulate our imagination?
Obviously, the smell stimulates our imagination, but it has to be accompanied by colour. I try to represent all the colours of food, but it isn’t always easy as there are infinite shades and infinite taste sensations that derive from food. I made a choice; I eliminated the halftones and greys. I used strong colours, the ones that give out a sensation of pleasure. It was a very creative project, similar to those of Walt Disney artists. After all, it isn’t difficult to transform the monotony that surrounds us with happiness.
You have been described as an artisan of drawing paper…. but what importance do an artist’s hand drawings and illustrations have nowadays, in this day and age of fast pace photography and social network communications?
I have learned how to use social networks to my advantage. I use them as a way of showing my drawings to as many people as possible. I have realized that everyone reacts positively, a narrative process that stems from creativity.
You come from a family of pastry chefs. In what way have your knowledge of this tradition, and your personal recollections, influenced this project?
My family origins are of great importance. When I draw, I think about the smells and aromas that came out of my parents’ kitchen. I’ll never forget however, that when they wanted me to be good, I was sent off with Alfio, the pastry chef and creator of Sclavi cakes. He tried to teach me, but I got sidetracked with useless, ridiculous, but immensely colourful decorations.
Graduated from the Academy of Brera in Milan, he used his talent to feed new ideas and unpublished images to several magazines, from Mondo Uomo, the Uomo Vogue, from Amica to Gulliver. In portraits of food, Sclavi, who was born into a family of pastry chefs, expresses exuberance and the richness of colour typical of Siena, the disenchantment of those who see beyond, together with a sort of fairy-tale happiness. Sclavi is a contemporary "street" narrator who allows you to get a taste of life through a table set with illustrations. www.fabriziosclavi.it