Enora Lalet is a French visual food artist. Flavours make you travel and that’s just the case right here, traveling is a big part of her work. Her parents had fallen in love with Indonesia where she followed them there as a young child and from there on, she has been visiting a lot more places like Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, discovering their colors and flavors of the local cuisine, but also big cities like New York, Berlin, London, and Madrid were on her list. That’s why the mixture of cultures and subjects always appear in her displayed pieces of work. After a master degree in Arts and a degree in Anthropology, she exhibited her culinary portraits in Bordeaux (2010), introducing her series 'Cooking Faces' where she takes gastronomy and typically raw material of each country building a colorful display of food and tradition. Today we have the honor to represent to you one of her themes, ¡Sabroso! focusing on the culinary culture of Colombia!
Your portfolio is amazingly colorful and beautifully inspiring, what do you want to tell or make people feel with it?
I take the audience into a world inspired by magic and legends. Its oniric aspect charms the spectator with a powerful chromatic strength. My artwork is terribly pop and color saturated because it draws from the senses and personal mythologies. It is a world of unsettling duality where the beauty of the monster contrasts with the reality of the phantasm. The spectator finds himself in a place in between, on the delicate edge where our cultural codes build interpretations. He meets emotional ambivalence. This strange-oriented esthetic takes him far from the judgements born from education, culture or social status… My aim, in the end, is to take the viewer by surprise, out of his comfort zone, and back into the childhood fantasies where his plate of mashed potatoes was a field, a mountain, a shapable landscape. It is also an Art about transdisciplinarity: it mixes fashion, anthropology, theatre, gastronomy, painting, photography, portrait, identity questions, social, design … It is anti-borders.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I think that a big part of my inspiration comes from the way that I grew up, between two cultures, France and Indonesia. My parents made a life-choice which took me around the world and I was never trapped in the evidence of a unique culture. Indonesian mythology, that I love, of course, influenced my Art. I remember when I was a child, I always wanted to watch Balinese dances because the characters of the Ramayana were fascinating by the sparkling ornaments, the wide eyes, the posture of their toes, the flower perfume inside the Goddesses hair, the epileptic shiny fabrics of the warrior’s costumes. All of this attracted me more than reality. If I didn’t choose the way of visual art, my dream would have been to be a dancer like them.
How would you describe your work?
In a technical and visual perspective, my work is a scenography of body painted portraits, dressed with ornaments made of food or organic materials. There is no photomontage, I work only with raw materials. The shapes or patterns come from the traditional cultures where I am invited to work during a residence. In the series Sabroso!, created at the Alliance Française of Cartagena de Los India (Colombia) in September 2017 with the photographer Rafael Bossio, you can notice the food blending together is local: passion fruits skins, pineapples leaves, fritters, traditional candy … For 10 years, I have been working with two materials: body and food. According to me, these two sensible subjects highlight the questions of our existences. The question of feed and food is a big cauldron full of emotions, contradictions, touching revelations about our society.
How did you choose your models?
Most of the time, I do not choose, they come to me as an evidence. It can be beautiful meet or a crush on the pulp of a mouth, on the white of an eye, the brutality of a look, the shape of a jaw, the curve of shoulders. During my art residence, I work with local people, because it is all about cultural exchange and nothing is more beautiful than mixed cultures. At the beginning, I worked with friends who had the great kindness to be my models. I am full of gratitude to them because wearing these ornaments is not easy, it is heavy and it takes a long time to get the right shot. They were patient. Today, a lot of people would like to have their own portrait but maybe they do not know about this aspect of the work.
How do you feel about the way your work has progressed so far? How do you see it evolving in the future?
I was lucky enough to meet people who believed in my artwork, who gave me wings and trust. Thanks to them, my work progressed. It seems to me that it’s important to take risks, to get out of France, to get invested in projects that take you out of the art scene. These choices led me to discover new tricks that brought me to increasingly surprising scenographies. Experience has taught me to make technical choices, like collaborating with professional photographers. It allowed me to focus on the creation. I prefer to live in the moment, and I don’t know how it will evolve.
What’s your favorite picture of the series and why?
Difficult question. I think these photographs work well when they are together or as a diptych or triptych. Patilla is probably the most impressive, due to the rhythm and combination of colors but I am really attracted by Corona de Pina because the chosen shape is a Zenu pattern that the indigene model incarnates perfectly. Bunuelos is funny and the mouth of Ana Louisa is so phantasmagoric. Every detail are enhanced by the very good work of the local photographer Rafael Bossio.
Tell us something about the culture and people in Colombia?
It is important to be patient when you work in another culture, especially when you are used to a different perception of time and logic. In Colombia, time is elastic and waiting is a part of the travel because all you manage and organize beforehand never works. There is a lot of waiting and misunderstanding but it is also the point of art residencies. I endured my own rigor and exigence. I imposed my rhythm in the total indifference. Today, I find it funny.
Which cuisine do you like the most?
Another difficult question! I think that the Indian food is one of the best for my body if I turn the mind to Ayurveda. But I am a big fan of cheese, so Italian food always makes me vibrate. Turkish or Greek gastronomy is an explosion of tastes inside my mouth that I can’t live without. Asia has always been a part of me, and I’m still amazed by their bizarre food culture.