Fan Mail: Eszter Burghardt

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Food has become sexy.  Or perhaps while food has always been sensual, tactile and oh so titillating, food photography has become overwhelmingly beautiful.  What used to be a pragmatic understatement pinned to the windows of reasonably priced restaurant establishments has been blown quite clearly out of the water with images of open pomegranates and vibrant vegetable medleys covered in a seventies haze. Or, food has been captured with such a heart wretchedly clear and concise detail that one can easily become confused by whether or not it is emotional urges or necessary caloric intake that can drive a person to breathless cravings while surfing lifestyle and food blogs.   A dear friend of mine who is a photographer claims that photography isn’t art if someone goes tripping about simply documenting what is already beautiful.  She claims that finding beauty in astonishing places is when the real artist takes over and stands apart from the crowd of snap happy landscape and portrait photographers. Debatable? Sure. But regardless of whether or not you agree with her rigid formula for the art form, photography does have a lot of war wounds from battles waged about the documentation vs. art debate.

All of these sentiments pulled—albeit flippantly—from the minutia of my limited knowledge on the subject slowly transformed from a set of abstract ideas into a rather giddy excitement over the work of Eszter Burghardt, a Canadian-Hungarian artist based in Vancouver Canada.  After completing an artist residency in Iceland, Burghardt began to create a set of what initially seem to be images of the Icleandic landscape.  However, the fantastic thing about these little tromp l’oeil’s is that they are 100% edible.

Thats right. Edible.  The artist creates tiny food dioramas and then photographs them in the way one might handle an architectural model.  The result is a set of gorgeous landscapes that are simultaneously richly crafted, fun and mind boggling.  In some ways, it’s a reverse ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’ situation and when you really start to look at the details you begin to notice the crystalized sugars of the granite masses and the cocoa powder that renders itself rather well as dirt perfectly suited to dust the tundra. The end performance is strangely endearing and sets itself against so many of the preconceived notions around art, documentation and reality.


Eszter Burghardt has been taking part in international artist residencies in Iceland since graduating with a BFA from Emily Carr University in 2001. Her paintings have been exhibited across Canada and in the USA. Burghardt was selected as a winner for the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Festival in 2010. She is represented by the Bau-Xi Gallery and the Herringer Kiss Gallery. Her work is currently on view through February 19th, 2010 at the Bau-Xi Gallery in Vancouver, Canada.

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