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Talking edible art with Stainless
I lean forward tempted to lick the candy with a salamandar-like swipe of my tongue. The pastel-coloured fondant curlicues — dusty orange, persimmon red, lemon yellow, pistachio green — are seducing my taste buds. People are looking, though, and I?m not salivating in the surrounds of a patisserie, I?m standing in an artists? studio in Havana.
Alejandro Pi?eiro, 21, Jos? Capaz, 23 and Fabelo Hung, 20, have formed art group Stainless and much of their current work oozes with thickly curled oils applied using the cake-maker?s nozzle.
Capitolio from the series Sweet Constructions is a glorious wedding cake of a picture rippling in royal-icing white. Each Ionic column of this handsome neoclassical building is expertly topped by rounded swirls.
The cake decorator?s kitchen tools work as expertly for the boudoir as well as the lofty corridors of power.
El Gran Pastel, hanging in the group?s Miramar studio, features the spreadeagled bodies of lithe naked young women engaging in an orgy, all formed by the cake nozzle in an alluring palette of 100 tubes of candy pink, orange creme, strawberry fondant and raspberry red oils. El Gran Pastel also plays on the double entendre of cake in Cuba as a tea-time treat and pastel, a meet up for mutual erotic pleasure!
The picture, like Capitolio, looks entirely edible.
Stainless took this one step further with one of the centrepieces of its first large exhibition at the Centro Hispanoamericano de Cultura in Havana in autumn 2011.
Fuck Me was an edible love letter. Words written in a missive by an ex-girlfriend to Capaz were copied and written in real Cuban meringue, that ubiquitous gooey mix in shocking artificial shades, that tops most Cuban cakes.
At the back of this exhibition catalogue a pop-out cardboard spoon was available (in reference to spoons that used to be available in food bought in cardboard boxes (cajitas) on the street) and gallery goers were encouraged to nibble whatever took their fancy from the love letter.
Pi?eiro explained: ?The idea was that by eating it, people were entering the work and fucking it. The whole thing was made of meringue and over the entire month of the exhibition it was destroyed.?
Pi?eiro, Capaz and Hung have been working together for almost two years; they worked on their own for five years prior to forming Stainless in 2010. All are graduates of Cuba?s finest art school, the San Alejandro art academy. Capaz and Hung also study at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Cubanac?n.
Capaz explained Stainless? raison d’?tre: ?Our art combines the thoughts of three people and the principal idea is to experiment, and because we are experimenting, we?re exploring the use of different materials.?
Stainless is preparing for the Bienal de la Habana that runs from May 11th until June 10th this year. La Concha is a space that is part of a new La Habana Vieja gallery, Factoria Habana. Here, Stainless will exhibit four pieces including Capitolio and El Gran Pastel.
At La Lavander?a, a converted launderette in the Buena Vista barrio that used to wash Fidel Castro?s clothes, the group will install Tobog?n, their luscious pink extended tongue in the form of a child?s slide. They?re also creating a large fibre-glass cake — We call for a Global Revolution for La Lavander?a; and the exterior of the restored and newly painted white launderette will be covered by enormous fibre-glass confetti shapes.
Hung explained: ?It will be like a river of confetti on the outside of the building, like stars from the sky. They will be like people?s desires and also like the spirits of people.?
?We also wanted to place white, blue and yellow confetti like fallen stars from a comet in the grounds of ISA but we?re not allowed to so we?re going to place them on the domes of the art school instead.?
So young, but Stainless is already used to bureaucratic obstacles. The artists? embellished cake of pastel-coloured oils bearing the message ?52 A?os de Palabras? (52 Years of Words) and a large erect pink tongue in the place of a candle was censored prior to the autumn exhibition.
?We like to be provocative and reach out to people who have consumed art and also those who haven?t,? Pi?eiro said.