Paolo Mentasti was born and raised on a plane flying between Sao Paulo, Bogota and Mexico City. He received his BFA from The Cooper Union in 2019. His art practice involves ceramics, sculpture, drawing, photography, performance and installation.
His artwork attempts to “cleanse” forms of the historical baggage that clings to them through juxtaposition and mutual transformation. Like a fat-derived soap can cleanse dirty oils or fats by dispersing and suspending their molecules, historically-charged forms can cleanse one another. Barbed wire and obelisks—forms deployed on the US-Mexico border—have historically functioned as accessories to, and symbolic markers of, the violent policies of the US. By coiling terracotta barbed wire into an amphora—an ancient mass produced form with roots in empire and extraction economies—the historical associations of each form are suspended and dispersed into each other.
Paolo Mentasti was awarded the Susan Rothenberg Travel Fellowship in 2019 to travel to Chennai, India and research the ice trade and water scarcity.