Seizing Beauty a new book of photographs by Paulette Tavormina caught my eye in the window of Rizzoli bookstore in NOMAD. I adore food with its natural crevices, textures and colors and take every opportunity to capture them in my food photography and recipes. It is true that we eat with our eyes first and once food is tasted a true symphony of senses in complete. Tavormina's food photographs seem romantic, and in that I mean reminiscent, full of emotion and seem to narrate a scene of human inhabitation.
Her fantastic lighting reminds one of oil paintings of the masters- she uses this technique in both her food and floral photos. I sense her Italian(ess) in her styling and details of crustaceans, figs, sculls and copper vases and pots. We (Italians) love including symbols of death anywhere there are images of life-as they do go hand in had. Peeled fruit, rumpled table settings and half eaten food hint at inhabitants not long removed from the scene. It is as if the food is still warm or a dinner has been interrupted by an argument or a lusty scene that lured the diners away quickly. They are moody and ghostly- the flowers less so but no less bold with color and life.
The book is accompanied by essays by Silvia Malaguzzi, Mark Alice Durant and Anke Van Wagenberg-Ter Hoeven. Her photographs are in museums, corporate collections and galleries such as the Robert Mann Gallery and published by The Monacelli Press
Tavormina tells me of her Sicilian ancestry and I asked if she had visited the crypts of the Capuchin Monastery, located 30 minutes outside of Palermo (it has one of the greatest collections of preserved bodies hang in in period clothing in the entire world) and she said she had heard of but it was a bit too morbid for her. I surely thought that such a place would be appreciated by one who uses macabre props in her photos so lovingly! I encourage to seize the opportunity to visit again.