Mattia Biagi was born in Italy in 1974, and is a graduate of the I.R.F.A., an Italian art and design school. In 2001, Biagi moved from Italy to Los Angeles. Upon his arrival, he was inspired by one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the La Brea Tar Pits, which would provide the inspiration forBiagi’s current body of work. As he explains, the prehistoric site elicited a visceral reaction. “It gave me a very visceral reaction,” Biagi remembers. “I was fascinated by the tar’s texture, but also by this dichotomy of a natural, primordial element in the middle of this urban setting.”
Initially, Biagi gravitated to the medium for its aesthetic qualities: the depth and dimension of its blackness; its richness of texture. Yet, as he began to work with the substance, he discovered it was the medium’s unpredictability that mesmerized him. “I love how the tar can be manipulated, with the drips and imperfections creating a cocoon-like ‘second skin’ that imparts depth to whatever it comes in contact with,” Biagi explains.
Biagi’s first project with tar involved dipping teddy bears into the substance, and this fascination with mixing objects of childhood innocence with something so primordial as tar is the primary theme Biagi has stayed with. “I want people to look at these everyday objects in a new light,” he says. “Some people see humor, some are disturbed. But to elicit a strong emotional reaction—that is the key.”