Cheese Portraits: An artist captures the many faces of cheese
Early last winter I purchased a wonderful piece of cheese at Di Bruno Brothers in Philadelphia. That chunk of Gorwydd Caerphilly was so beautiful and appetizing to me that I was compelled to paint it before eating it.
When I connect strongly with a subject like that, everything seems so natural in the process of the painting. I wanted more of it—more cheese and more experiences connecting to the world of this handcrafted food.
Without much knowledge of good cheese, I appealed to a friend I had previously met at a dinner party, Tenaya Darlington (a.k.a. Madame Fromage, whose writing is also featured this issue in ““The Accidental Cheesemaker,”” p. 80). She became an enthusiastic mentor, taking me on various treks to find beautiful cheeses throughout Philadelphia.
With Tenaya”s encouragement, support, and ability to get as food frenzied about all things edible as I do, I learned so much about cheese and was inspired to create many portraits in the span of little more than four months.
Each portrait is my way of translating the seduction and artistry of a cheese through sensitive means of color and thick surface texture.
They are painted directly on professionally prepared, boxlike wooden surfaces. I choose to paint on a three-dimensional surface as a means of portraying the subjects as real objects and not merely flat reproductions.
Through paint I want to re-create the desire for a singular piece of cheese, as I experienced it, as well as the reward of eating it.
Each painting evokes the memory of this pleasure for me. Perhaps it will for you, too.
Portraits and text by Mike Geno