Interview: Fulvio Bonavia on mixing food and fashion, and the influence of illustration in his conceptual work

If you happen to find yourself in Hong Kong this month, stop by the shopping and dining mecca Central Hongkong Land, which is hosting a mouth-watering, mind-bending exhibition of photos from Fulvio’s book A Matter of Taste.

CENTRAL Art of Dining, an in-house magazine produced by Central Hongkong Land, recently interviewed Fulvio about the book, his inspirations, and his early days as a photographer:

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Fulvio Bonavia.

Do you consider yourself a foodie or a gourmand? How would you describe your relationship with food?
Both of them depend of the period. I love to eat well and I always try to find the way to do it, even when I’m in a rush.

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Are you particular about the food you eat (i.e. organic, locally produced, vegetarian, etc.)?
I love different kinds of cuisine and explore different tastes from different parts of the world. Even though my preference is Italian cuisine, I love French, Japanese, Chinese Indian, Greek… I have always been curious about exploring the different cuisines of different cultures.

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What was the inspiration behind A Matter of Taste? Is fashion as “perishable” as fresh produce? Or is fashion just as “fresh”? Or do we consume fashion as voraciously as fine food?
It’s a different point of view to show the food as desirable object like the fashion accessories. I think they both seduce the people in some way. Yes, I think there are people that consume fashion quite similar to the fine food.

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From the pages of Fulvio Bonavia’s A Matter of Taste

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Do you prefer to shoot still life or people?
It depends. I like both a lot. In general, when I feel more socially open, I am more in the mood to shoot people. When I feel the desire to be more alone, then it’s the perfect time for still life. The atmosphere in the studio is totally different depending on what I’m shooting. The themes in my work are very diverse, and I like that.

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Who are the artists/photographers/writers/film directors etc. that have influenced your work?
Many of them. When I started my career as an illustrator, I was influenced by the light of Caravaggio and by the American illustrator Norman Rockwell. But my favorite painting was Le Radeau de la Méduse by  Théodore Géricault. When I become a photographer, my first influence was Irving Penn’s work, and then so many others photographers.

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What is your favorite “fresh” food?
Raw fish, Italian and Japanese style.

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Where was the most memorable meal you had?
In Croatia. A selection of grilled fish that had just been caught.

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Do you cook? Are you a good chef? What do you like to cook?
When I have time, I love to cook. I find it very relaxing. I don’t think I’m a good chef, but in some way I’m quite creative. I often change my plates and try to make them better. I like to cook first plates—pasta and risotto—in many different ways.

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What do you notice first about food? The smell? Its presentation? Its texture?
Presentation and then the rest. But also, the taste is the most important, I think.

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What would you like to shoot next?
Landscapes. In the past, I used to travel a lot to do landscapes, but in the last few years I was more concentrated in other subjects, so I really miss it.

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Some of Fulvio’s landscapes…

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Can you divulge any secrets to your technique for creating images that are so “real” yet so “surreal”?
I think my background as an illustrator and the fact that I personally did the retouching  on my work makes me sensitive to every detail, and this combination influences my work a lot—including the shooting process. Preparing the pieces in the proper way is fundamental to getting good work.

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How does your creative process work? Do you see a piece of food and “imagine” it to be a fashion item, or vice versa?
Sometimes the inspiration came from fashion accessories and sometimes from shapes of food. There was no rule—the inspiration comes from both parts. Sketching was also really important.

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Where do you get more inspiration from—fashion or food?
From both… I am not a fashion freak, but due to my work I am in close contact with fashion. I am more an observer of fashion. As in every other creative work, I admire fashion creations. Fashion in some way is an expression of art. And I love food and its many forms as an incredible creation of nature. Mixing these two things, you can create masterpieces.

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.Related:

“Fulvio Bonavia, Milan,” by Alison Zavos, Feature Shoot

Mobius names Fulvio Bonavia “Photographer of the Year” for his boundary-pushing imagery

3 new campaigns by Fulvio Bonavia: rubber soul, the birth of a biker, and lap gods

fulviobonavia.com

Fulvio’s portfolio at StocklandMartel.com

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