Paolo Del Toro is a British-born artist currently residing in the US. Originally trained as an illustrator, he began teaching himself sculpture and woodcarving in 2011. His journey in sculpture began whilst whittling a mermaid under a tree in the Pyrenees mountains. The process of turning a twig into a mermaid struck him as a magical one, and he has been hooked on 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. Directly influenced by his nomadic lifestyle, the boxes are small, lightweight, and hollow. After settling in the US three years ago, Paolo was able to start making larger sculptures and began to experiment with felt. His current pieces are made of foam and needle felted wool.
Often described as bizarre, unnerving, whimsical, and dreamlike, his work is influenced by myths and fairytales, outsider, folk, and tribal art, Forteana, Jungian theory, and Gnosticism.
Since moving to the US, Paolo has exhibited his work in the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York. He has been featured in various print and online publications including It’s Nice That, Hi-Fructose, and Juxtapoz.
Paolo currently works at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design as an Adjunct Professor. He loves collaborating with other artists, so get in touch if you have a project in mind.
As an artist, I draw from the deep waters of the human sub-conscious, visiting a landscape of dreams to retrieve ideas and characters that form the basis of my sculptural work. My sculptures present a contrast between the familiar and the foreign, the inviting and the unsettling. Oftentimes this contrast is found in the relationship between two characters within a sculpture. In many of my pieces, characters find themselves locked in a power struggle with symbolic and totemistic animals. In other instances, this contrast is found within individual characters, as they find themselves at odds with their own identity. 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 serine face as the mask, which is removed to reveal a monstrous face beneath.
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.