Miami New Times' Mastermind Awards honors the city's most inspiring creatives. This year, we received more than 100 submissions, which our staff narrowed to an elite group of 30. We'll be profiling those honorable mentions, and eventually the finalists, in the weeks to come. This year's three Mastermind Award winners will be announced February 28 at Artopia, our annual soiree celebrating Miami culture. For tickets and more information, visit the website.
JeanPaul Mallozzi's work deals with the manifestation of moods and emotions in the body; his subjects' facial features are typically a blur of bright colors and sinuous lines. The lack of an obvious facial expression forces viewers to find the painting's underlying sensibility elsewhere.
But as with most art, not everyone is perceptive enough to get it. Laughing, Mallozzi recounts the time when a snarky visitor to his studio accused him of being unable to paint faces. "I had to devise a plan. I'm gonna give this guy the middle finger somehow," Mallozzi says. So he proved himself by way of a woman's painstakingly rendered face in the piece Lie With Me.
Half Cuban, half Italian, and born and raised in Queens, New York, Mallozzi has been gaining attention for his fluid, emotionally poignant pieces that derive inspiration from bullying, childhood, and mood swings. Overall, he exudes an upbeat, light-hearted energy.
But being an artist isn't an easy endeavor, even with a positive attitude. Mallozzi says one of his favorite pieces is Tenacity, a depiction of a boy making his way across a tight rope. "A lot of people get the idea, it's just any endeavor in your life never goes the right way the first time. It's a question of being hardened and kind of stubborn and tenacious is the word. Hopefully you get your balance and find your stride. That's basically my art life in a nutshell. I fought very hard."
Mallozzi's work was exhibited at the Miami Project tent during Art Basel, and his solo exhibition "kN0B0DY" was shown at Miami's 101/Exhibit gallery. His works have also been exhibited in New York, Washington D.C. and London, and featured in Wonderland magazine, Beautiful/Decay, 3x3 magazine's new talent gallery, and Carpaccio's Guide Vol. 6 of emerging artists.
What's the wildest thing you saw at Basel this year?
So many things. I think it was at Pulse, I can't describe what it was, like porcelain figures, human, bodies of naked women but they had animal heads. Or, I don't remember what they were, gas masks? We were completely perplexed, we didn't know what it was. I got this awesome picture of my friends staring at it. It said everything without having to say anything.
Since you deal a lot with emotion, what's the best emotion in the spectrum? I would have to say -- don't laugh -- sadness. I love sadness. My mother's from Cuba, dad's from Italy. I spent time in Europe and the outlook on life is different. It's funny, I have people come through, they look at those mood swing prints, and they're afraid of buying the red mad and blue sad, they just want to be yellow happy. They say, I don't want the mad or sad in my house. It's life, it's part of everything, so when I think about it and look at the emotions most times I'll come through a breakthrough. I'll touch on something painful or toching and I'll cry and usually I'll equate that with some sort of sadness. If you're able to touch on that and able to cry, you're in touch with something in you that has a lot more substance. People that cry more at movies, it's true, I do, I'll totally admit I do. I see a lot more in things. In American standards movies tie up with a beautiful bow, perfect stories. In European movies it's often melancholic or not wrapped up in a pretty bow because that's life. No happy endings, they leave it open to interpretation. They know it's not finished, it's just not finished yet. There's more oceans to travel, more things to see. I like sadness.
Jealousy is. I've actually illustrated it. It's one of the worst. It does absolutely nothing for you. It's all-encompassing and you can't get out of it and you can't see yourself for what you have. You see yourself for what you don't have. You can't compare yourself, it does nothing but more damage to you. We're all individuals, we're not competing with each other. There's no point in trying to attain what someone else has. I'm guilty of it too. I've longed for things I don't have and it did nothing for me.
Your work often deals with children. What do you miss most about childhood?
Just the randomness of playing games. I mean that's really a big thing for me. Fortunately I have some weird friends who would do this, when we get the time, we'd probably require a few beers. We used to do mimosas and Monopoly. Five or six people and we'd play hard. There was this saying: if you're not willing to lose your friends over a board game, you're not playing hard enough. We'd give out more money and start rolling, start buying. The mimosas would flow, so obviously shit talking would flow, deals would flow. I would tend to win most times, I'd make some epic deals. That's what I miss. I miss doing that. I'm still a kid at heart. I won't lose that and I try to never forget that. If I wasn't, I don't think I could do this as long as I've been doing it. I've got to get another board game going. I was always the top hat. They just [got rid of] the iron. I don't know anybody that played that ever wanted to be the iron!
Green. I don't know why, there's something about it. I relate it to food, I relate it to good wealth, to good luck. My eyes are green. There's something about it I just love.
What's one thing that Miami does better than NYC?
You're asking me a tough question 'cause you're talking about my home. That's my home base. One of the things, it's obvious but it was helpful. I got to touch base with my mother's side of the family. There's a huge Cuban community down here, a Cuban influence. I grew up in a neighborhood that was prominently Jewish and Korean. We were the odd family out. It was cool, a whole range of friends would be coming to my house and they were enamored with my family who was loud, boisterous, big on food, family, and a language that was spilling out everywhere, Spanish nobody understood.
Down here when I got here, I wasn't Cuban enough. It's a whole culture here that I knew nothing about. My Spanish was rusty. I started becoming more in tune with it and took a lot more from it. Hialeah and obviously South Beach offers a huge array of different things. There's a huge Spanish thread through it all, a Cuban thread. The food, some of the food down here is fantastic. So I'll always be grateful to Miami for that. Roots from my family, roots I didn't know about.
2013 Mastermind Award Honorable Mentions:
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