For me, it's a nagging thing- a thought, an idea, an image, a reference- it keeps reappearing until I act. This is how the interior of Feast came to be or I guess, how Feast came to be at all. It may seem cliche to be inspired by a classical artist and if so, then please call me cliche because I swear the ghost of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio took hold of my aesthetic.
It first started from a book given to me by a dear friend which had Caravaggio's "Boy with a Basket of Fruit" on the cover. It's lusciousness, it's vibrant bursts of color mixed with dark shadows, it's not so subtle mingling of sex and food- it captured my attention and held it. I kept "running into it" and everytime I did, I had to study it in great depth. Not knowing much about Caravaggio, I read about his life and all of it's controversy. From what I gather, he was a difficult man, to say the least. The only things truly known about Caravaggio are from public records and quite frankly, his rap sheet. He liked picking fights and this fact got him into considerable trouble. It was recorded that he started a brawl at a local Roman tavern over some artichokes... my kinda man.
I then followed this little obsession to the 1986 movie "Caravaggio" by Dereck Jarman staring, among others, a stunning young Tilda Swinton. Jarman's sets were gorgeous, often mixing the odd contemporary prop in with early 1600 AD period props, making me do double takes throughout the film. The walls looked like they had been steeped in many humid Roman summer evenings. I wanted my walls to look like that. And I also wanted heavy wooden tables and benches, just like the ones Caravaggio must have sat at when he sent the artichokes flying.
I found a local artist here in Berlin who knew a technique for the walls and she taught me the basics (which came in handy because she quit the project before completion). I finished them myself with, as they say, blood, sweat and tears. I also found a few angels who crafted the tables by hand.
During the renovations of Feast, I made a pilgrimage to the Galleria Borghese in Rome where a number of Caravaggio's works are housed. For a person who normally gets extremely sleepy twenty minutes inside the doors of a museum, the Borghese Gallery is completely digestible as it is no bigger than a large villa. Also, the pieces inside seem to be a concentrated collection of all things unbelievably beautiful. Anyway, I found my way to where the Caravaggios were and there it was... the Boy with a Basket of Fruit. As I stood two feet away from it, close enough to see the delicate brush strokes that Caravaggio himself had made, feelings of complete gratefulness and awe came over me. I was grateful to have been inspired by this image to begin to realize my dream and I was in total awe of it's own exceptional and utter beauty. My eyes filled with tears to the last possible point before running over and at the same time I was smiling the biggest smile ever, maybe I was even making some funny sounds, I'm not sure. People passing must have thought I was a total loon but I didn't care.