Paolo Del Toro is a British-born artist currently based the US. Del Toro uses needle felting to create gigantic masks and sculptures out of wool and foam. His creations portray mythical faces in expressions that range from grotesque to contemplative introspection.
His journey in modern sculpture began with shaping a mermaid under a tree in the Pyrenees mountains. The process of turning a branch into a mermaid struck him as a magical one, and he has been hooked on art sculpture ever since.
His first project was a series of wooden boxes in the shape of heads, which allowed him to practice sculpture while traveling. After settling in the US, Paolo was able to start making larger contemporary sculptures and began to experiment with felt. His current pieces are made of foam and needle felted wool.
“It is my hope that the work I create challenges the viewer to examine the deeper nature of a subject. By obscuring the boundary between beauty and ugliness, the safe and the dangerous, the inviting and the repelling, the familiar and the foreign, the graceful and the grotesque, we are forced to consider that one might also be the other. Through that notion, we are able to encroach further into the otherness of our dreams and imagination than we might otherwise fear to tread.”
Often described as bizarre, unnerving, whimsical, and dreamlike, his work is influenced by myths and fairytales, an outsider, folk, and tribal art, Forteana, Jungian theory, and Gnosticism.
“ My sculptures present a contrast between the familiar and the foreign, the inviting and the unsettling. …I frequently use masks in my work as a symbolic device to convey the theme of contrasting identities. I particularly enjoy reversing the traditional concept of the mask, using the calm and serene face as the mask, which is removed to reveal a monstrous face beneath.”
Source: Paolo Del Toro