Fernando Mastrangelo: On Challenging his Creativity

Fernando Mastrangelo

Many artists—from writers to interior designers—are often questioned about their creative process and where they gain their inspiration. For artist Fernando Mastrangelo, climate change and the resulting consequences on the environment have been a main source of inspiration for his collections. But his creative process is now shifting. Elliman Insider sat down with Fernando to find out more about what inspired his move to the Catskills after spending almost two decades in Brooklyn, and how current events are challenging his creativity.

Eilliman Insider: What made you decide to leave Brooklyn after 17 years and move to the Catskills?

Fernando Mastrangelo: As with many New Yorkers who’ve been in the city long enough, I just finally got to a place where I wanted to lower the volume on a busy life, a busy schedule, and return to my creativity. I longed to return to a place where I’m surrounded by the actual content and inspiration for my work, nature. Bovina is a small town in the heart of the Catskills, which I’ve been visiting for over 15 years. My close friend has a house down the road, so last September we visited and found this great place nearby and decided to make the move full-time.

We’ve been here since December 2019, right before COVID hit. The timing to transition my practice upstate was almost kismet; we recently closed on a new studio space in Hobart NY, which will officially launch our new upstate studio. I love the city, but after 17 years and building a really solid foundation, I’m ready and happy to explore a new side of my work, life, and creativity.

Title: “Aurora”

Description: The Aurora mirror celebrates the opulent beauty of a desert sunset. The striations of hand-dyed sand command attention, while the mirror allows viewers a chance to visit the region through their own reflections.

Materials: Hand-Dyed Sand

Size: 72″ Diameter

EI: How does your new location affect your creativity? Do you see a difference in your work now that you’re creating in nature?

FM: Time has felt very different up here, and because of the pandemic I’ve been really focusing on what the content of my work will be in the upcoming years. I’ve spent almost a decade focusing on issues of climate change, and I still feel that is a pressing issue that will continue in my work, but the tension in the country right now has me exploring new ideas and trying to figure out how to express this time and what it means for us as people.

It’s a bit daunting because I’m so comfortable in the language of my current work that this puts me in an uncomfortable place when contemplating what to make next. How can I make design pieces that speak to the awakening that we’re currently going through? Being in nature at least has given me the space to reflect on my practice and my own personal struggles with the current state of our society. That’s my challenge—for now, I don’t think I can continue to make the same works as before, but rather find a way to expand my practice and touch on ideas that are currently changing the world around us.

EI: How do you decide which place to incorporate into your art? For example, what inspired Dubai as the creative influence for The Capital Collection?

FM: I had an exhibition in Dubai and so I wanted to create pieces that were inspired by the region. This is fairly typical of my work, I Iike to reference locations that I can conceptually work with that expand the language of my work with freshness. For example, I made a blue mirror titled “Marina” which introduces new shapes that I might not have considered before, but the shape was inspired by looking at aerial views of the Dubai Marina. I really love it when a location can trigger a new branch of thoughts or an entirely new body of work.

EI: Many of your pieces are large and suited for everyday purposes, such as dining room tables, desks, etc. How does it feel to sculpt such massive pieces by hand?

FM: My first sculpture ever was a big red-figure made from plaster bandages over a chicken wireframe. It was huge! I’ve just always been comfortable with large scale objects, so for me, the scale of my work has always felt exciting and challenging at the same time because of the crazy engineering it takes to accomplish. I also think because sculpture is 3D and we interact with it with our bodies, the scale of an object can have a big impact, and I use that to command a certain presence from the works.

Title: “Arctic”

Description: This artwork resembles an aerial view of the ocean on a dark and stormy night. The strokes of materials rise and collide like crashing waves to create a tension that reflects these intense and uncertain times.

Materials: Hand-Dyed Sand and Powdered Glass

Size: 54″ Diameter

EI: Are there any current interior design trends that resonate with you and your work?

FM: I think there’s been a movement towards getting more connected with the organic and using natural materials. My work has been part of that movement, so it doesn’t feel like a trend at this point, I think it’s here to stay, and it might be only the beginning.

Find out more about Fernando’s work.

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