Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Osvaldo “Ozzie” Napoli has been an artist all his life but only recently has he decided to share his creativity with the world. As he prepares for his first solo exhibition later this year at Urban Gallery in Toronto, Ozzie’s been reviewing his past work and assessing his latest for inclusion. From spectacular bronze sculptures and freestanding wire pieces that will stop you in your tracks, to imaginative 3D wall art comprised of cellphone and computer components, his work provokes conversation, inspiration and adoration! One of my favourite pieces is titled “Bliss” (see below) and is a piece that Ozzie holds dear to his heart….and we can see why. I recently joined Ozzie for a photo shoot at his Richmond Hill studio of his latest works to add to his website (see end of story for link) and I asked him a few questions about his life, his inspiration and his art.
What first inspired you to paint and sculpt? As a child I was fascinated by the wonders and colors of carnival season in Uruguay. I used to carve and paint masks from palm tree branches and my friend and I wore them mimicking the dancers and performers at the parades in my neighborhood. [that early influence is clearly reflected in his current work – below] Who was your sculpting mentor/teacher and how did he impact what you create now? My mentor and friend was Canadian artist, writer and philosopher Sorel Etrog, best known as a sculptor. He taught me to see subtleties between strengths and weaknesses of composition and content. He also encouraged me to always approach art from my heart with clarity and vision. You work predominantly in wire, creating stunning human-like characters and fantastical creatures – how do you come up with such ideas? My ideas come mainly from real life stories and situations that we all find ourselves in as part of our everyday life….but with an added touch of fantasy and whimsy. I interpret the mystical and esoteric aspects of people and incorporate those into most of my work.
You also incorporate components from cellphones and computers in freestanding and 3D wall art – where do you find these bits’n’bobs? Surely you don’t smash your own phones?! I rely on the generosity of family, friends and neighbors to supply me with their recyclable e-trash; they are more than happy to donate to my stockpile and at the same time, get rid of their unwanted electronics.
You have numerous pieces done in bronze – how difficult is it to cast and where do you undertake that task? I form the original work in sculptor’s plasticine or wax and then take it to the foundry to be put through a rigorous process where a rubber and plaster mold is made to create a wax-like figure which is then coated with a compound called ceramic. That is then melted afterwards to produce a new mold that can handle the molten bronze…et voila! The sculpture is done and ready to be colored by a process called patina. The whole procedure could take up to three months before its completion. Whew!
You are now starting to exhibit your work as a mature artist – has waiting this long to share your work with the public been beneficial to you as an artist? Yes, because I now have the confidence to create with conviction and sound craftsmanship. I felt that I needed that time to create a vast collection of work which I am now ready to share with the world.
In the fall, you have your first solo show at Urban Gallery in Toronto – what are your expectations? I’m excited to show my collections to the public and meet art lovers who come out to support the launch of my month-long show. I’m also hoping to receive a good response to my work and gain attention from art critics and collectors. I would love for my works to go out into the world to inspire, provoke, entertain and enhance people’s understanding of the creative process.Yes, I’m excited, too, to see Ozzie’s work in a gallery and see/hear how people relate and react to each piece. I myself was particular drawn to this caged heart (below) …a perfect metaphor for my Valentine’s this year…LOL!! You can find more photos of Ozzie’s work and learn about his artistic approach to each subject at: www.artbyozz.com and keep the month of October free to visit his solo show at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto.