Fernando Mastrangelo – Medallions

Fernando Mastrangelo
October 8-29, 2013

Kowal+Odermatt is very pleased to announce as it’s inaugural show the exhibition Medallions, by sculptor Fernando Mastrangelo.
Originally having been part of a larger project, titled Avarice, this new series of sculptures relates to an ancient tradition of the people of the Aztec and later Mayan cultures, whereby deities were presented with gifts and adornments, similar to Mastrangelo’s medallions, in order to ingratiate oneself to these impersonal and supernatural forces.

For this exhibition, Mastrangelo, who freely admits to having a preoccupation with mythology and rituals, uses his medallions to tell narrative-based experiences, after having immersed himself, often months at a time, in the research of a particular topic, and traveling to different parts of the world. The artist replaces the original materials used by the Aztecs and Mayans to adorn their gifts, in most cases precious gems and stones, with modern-day commodities such as corn, coffee, or sugar. – Turquoise gems are translated into turquoise-dyed sugar and obsidian rock into black beans. Persuasively, he tacitly directs the viewer’s attention to one of the most socio-cultural issues of the present day. – The power of the omnipresent commodities trade and its command over worldwide prices for such commodities, in relation to the situation of the farmer growing those commonly needed crops.

Mastrangelos’s work runs the gamut of the human condition. Being utilitarian in his approach, as well as historical, he is rooting for the underdog, that part of society equal to ‘the lesser’. By touching on a diverse range of contemporary issues, like corn farming and its effects on the livelihoods of people, Mastrangelo’s work reads similar to that of German artist Anselm Kiefer. But while Kiefer incorporates the use of familiar products, he is prone to using them in their original appearance, while Mastrangelo lures the viewer into their own realm by exposing their own beauty and thus re-assessing the way we assign value to objects.

Medallions is at the same time a nod to the surface quality of today’s objects and products, as it masterfully resists any vapid implication therefrom. In essence, however, they bely a dark truth, disguised by the sheer opulence of their appearance. As a symbol of beauty, they may be taken as such, while at the same time, symbolically they give a face to one of the most pressing problems of our time.

Fernando Mastrangelo was born in 1978. His birthplace is unknown. He received his his B.A. in Sculpture from Cornish College of the Arts, and his M.A. in Sculpture from Virginia Commonwealth University.
He has exhibited Mendes/Mendes Gallery, New York, FAS Contemporary, London, UK, Charest-Weinberg, Miami, and was most recently included in the group exhibition “Connecting Cultures”, Brooklyn Museum, NY.
His work can be found in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, as well as in numerous private collections.

Opening hours are by appointment only. Please contact Kai Heinze for viewing appointments, as well as visuals at 1-646-6620924, or email Kowal+Odermatt Projects at: kowalodermatt@gmail.com.