Although you may have never considered baking as a medium of expression, Portuguese creative Cracked Bolos utilises a new conception that changes the way that we perceive the relationship between food and art itself. Exploring how cakes can become celebratory pieces of art in themselves, his unique focus on the chaotic aestheticism and imperfection is an exciting prospect to consider, providing a refreshing contrast to the current climate of perfectionism that seems to be trending on social media.
For starters, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
I’m Pedro, 28, I’m from Lisbon (Portugal) and I studied Visual Arts in Caldas da Rainha. I always liked to bake but never thought I would be taking cake orders. During college, I worked mostly on drawing and then on music.
I realised how boundless and how much there is to explore in baking after a small online workshop with Alli from @cakes4sport during the pandemic. I decided to make an Instagram page to share the cakes I would be making for fun and shortly after I started getting more and more orders
Your cakes could be described as completely bizarre in aesthetic, opulent, yet ethereal pieces of sculpture. What initially inspired you to use baking as an artistic medium?
I think I naturally arrived at baking as my medium after other more traditional art mediums didn’t inspire me as much, and I didn’t see myself following the art world path. I’m really intrigued by the cake form because it has a utility in itself and at the same time is decorated and marks an event/celebration. So there are all these elements that make it an art object but it isn’t exactly one.
Is there anything that drew you to create these unconventional cakes in particular?
It’s just what I came up with. I don’t see the cakes I make, especially the first ones, as unconventional, it’s just my way of making them.
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Where do you find the inspiration to push boundaries with your art?
I’m very inspired by my friends as their creativity and commitment always surprise me. I have the luck of having amazing artists around me like Ema Gaspar, Guilherme Figueiredo, Zé Maldito, and many more. Inspiration and references come from everywhere, I couldn’t track them even if I tried.
I have this idea of my work like a pop star that needs to keep putting things out, pushing the envelope of their sound and visuals and even identity, which is something so absurd and so tied to capitalism and the way we consume. I like to use that idea as a narrative to try different things and have fun.
The cakes themselves are almost absurd in the way they play with traditional conventions. Do you think they provoke people to question their relationships with food and aesthetics?
I think so, and I have come to that conclusion from some messages I get from people who are repulsed or just really confused when they stumble on my cakes. I don’t know if it’s the neon colours, the way I apply frosting, the dried elements or the abstract way I approach themes but something puts some people off, and that’s interesting. I’m also very interested in taking traditional elements and giving them a different context.
How do you select the flavours for each design? Is there a connection between the visual element and the taste?
The flavours are chosen by the person who is ordering. Normally I don’t think of that connection, but that’s something to consider for the future.
What role has Instagram played in the success of your business? Do you think social media is important for artistic expression these days?
It was very important. I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to have reached so many people in such little time if it wasn’t for Instagram. At the same time, it’s all very vapid and the fact that we as creators are dependent on an algorithm and people’s attention span and trends is very challenging. As an artist I have to trust what makes sense to me most of all but when working with social media there’s this idea of the public’s expectation which can compromise quality, it’s a very fine line.
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Do you think your cakes embody a new development in the ‘imperfect’ aesthetic that seems to have taken over on social media recently?
I was definitely influenced by it, by seeing such amazing bakers, most of them amateurs, showing their creations online and embodying the ‘imperfect’ like I do. But I don’t pay too much attention to trends.
Do you ever feel attached to your creations? How do you deal with their perishable nature of them?
Not at all. I actually think it’s pretty fun to see the cakes on my fridge after I finish them and realise they will become only available in the digital realm pretty soon. The fact they are perishable takes the pressure off my shoulders, I feel that if I was doing traditional sculpture it would be way harder to make decisions.
What are your aspirations for the future? Do you hope to inspire others?
I feel really humbled and grateful when people say they are inspired by my cakes and some even recreate them. Right now, I wish to create cakes for different contexts and be able to take them to new spaces and collaborate with more people. I also wish I can still surprise myself and my followers, that’s what makes it all so fun.
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