Monday, April 12, 2010
MATTIA BIAGI was born in Italy in 1974, and is a graduate of the I.R.F.A, an Italian art and design school. In 2001, Biagi moved from Italy to Los Angeles, California. Upon his arrival, he was inspired by one of the city's most famous landmarks, the La Brea Tar Pits, which would provide the inspiration for Biagi's current body of work. As it happened, the prehistoric site elicited a visceral reaction from the artist. Entranced by the texture of the mysterious substance, he also was immediately intrigued by the dichotomy he had uncovered: a natural, primordial element existing within a modern, urban environment was a transcendent concept to the artist. Clearly, Biagi is drawn to tar for simple and tangible reasons as well as complex, conceptual ones. Initially, he gravitated to the medium for its aesthetic qualities: the depth and dimension of its blackness; its richness of texture. Yet, as he began to work with the substance, he discovered it was the medium's unpredictability that mesmerized him. Biagi appreciated that while the material resists control, it can be coaxed and manipulated, the resulting drips and imperfections creating a cocoon-like "second skin" which imparts depth to whatever it comes in contact with. Biagi believes that the tar has such a strong physicality, anything it touches is forever transformed. The artist's first project involving tar was focused on children's Teddy bears. The combination of such a powerful and dramatic medium used to encase the ultimate symbol of childhood innocence resulted in a loaded and charged image, which would come to serve as the artist's hallmark. The body of work that has followed builds on the use of tar to embody the juncture of nature and the modern environment—and what results when those two, often divergent, entities collide. Importantly, the artist's work stimulates the viewer to consider objects, in a wholly new light. The use of tar stirs the viewer in a way that may be disturbing and may evoke spontaneous reaction. In fact, it is Biagi's ability to infiltrate the psyche with his use of tar and its applications that generates an otherworldly aura around his work.