“I am a reminder of the full-length portrait of August Sander’s pastry cook, feet firmly on the ground, looking squarely into the camera, hands busy with the tools of his trade – a man in the fullness of his career and master of his profession.
And then I see the half-length portraits of Tommaso Bonaventura’s pastry cooks in their typical white aprons and even more typical chef’s bonnets, their hands and working environment out of sight, eyes looking everywhere except into the camera. The figures stand out a black background, helping to emphasize the details and expressions on their faces which are highlighted by the photographer’s skill and power of his camera. It would be interesting to interpret the scene by completely eliminating its context, and consequently the mundane familiarity to the craft., thereby elevating it to the status of an ancient body of wisdom.
The distinction of an elite class that doesn’t belong to any specific category of craftsmanship, but rather to a gathering of the elect- the guardians of a valuable tradition threatened by the ways of our modern consumer society. Furthermore, this interpretation would also match the choice of Bonaventura to work explicitly in the classical portraiture style, presenting his collection in a gallery of personalities. A sort of “ Let us praise famous women”, to paraphrase the title of the Walker Evans book, but more likely in a Renaissance key, or even better, the golden age of Flemish art ( it could be the bonnet that reminds us of other times and other places and, consequently, of a bygone artistic genre. But if this image is culture, which Bonaventura manages with passion and sensitivity with respect to both traditional and contemporary techniques, there is above all the physical presence of his subjects – these splendid figures, each of whom occupies their own uniquely individually space which cannot be reduced to a generalisation, however laudable it may be. It is doubtlessly the result of long and accomplished experience – achievement born from an ability that we can read in their eyes, in their expressions, in the suspension of time that emerges as a common feature of all these portraits.”
Walter Guadagnini Fotografia Europea, 2018