Feast Your Eyes: Yumiko Utsu's Squid Mask

Why does food lend itself so wonderfully well to surreal art?

Japanese artist Yumiko Utsu creates photos that blend the techniques of "glossy food photography" with the kitschy "anthropomorphic tendencies of manga." The results are unsettling—funny and disgusting in equal measure. Describing her new work, currently on display in London, gallerist Michael Hoppen writes:
Instead of taking a strictly documentary approach to the Japanese relationship with food and the natural world, she uses fruit, vegetables, and seafood to construct surreal fantasies populated by kittens with octopus eyes, pineapples full of owls, and phallic carrots.

You can visit Utsu's website to see more of her work (or, if you're in London, you can see them in person at the Michael Hoppen gallery through February 19).

Meanwhile, I'm left wondering why food, in particular, lends itself so wonderfully well to surreal art. From painter Salvador Dalí's Lobster Telephone to animator Jan Švankmajer's Meat Love (in which two steaks share a passionate affair) food's ability to convey sensuality, decay, and everyday ordinariness all at once seems to make it a favorite subject for artists trying to conjure up a whimsical yet disturbing atmosphere of dream-like suspended disbelief.


Image: Squid Mask, 2010, by Yumiko Utsu, via We Make Money Not Art; Video: "Meat Love," by Jan Švankmajer, 1989.

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