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F. Taylor Colantonio: The New Baroque

F. Taylor Colantonio: The New Baroque
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In F. Taylor Colantonio’s world, nothing is quite as it seems. “I like to play in a world between real and fake, myth and reality,” he says, “where preconceptions have to be left at the door.”

This balancing act between truth and fantasy is brilliantly expressed in his objects, now on sale at Alex Eagle Studio. The forms of his woven vessels – some small, some medium, some monumental – nod to classic ceramic shapes from European history while being crafted from cable using a centuries-old American rug-making technique. His Magic Carpets set brightly coloured patterns reminiscent of Persian rugs on a technically innovative transparent backdrop that gives the impression of levitation.

His objects appear to perform their traditional roles, but on closer examination their true nature is revealed – the vase is not cold and hard, but soft and floppy. It subverts our understanding of a vase.

Taylor himself defies appearances. His Italian heritage means he could pass as a native Roman, but in fact he is a relatively recent arrival in the city. Lured from Massachusetts to do a summer apprenticeship with the foremost master of cartapesta (the Italian take on papier mache) in Puglia, come autumn he couldn’t bring himself to return to Boston.

“I realised I had been sucked into this vicious bourgeois cycle,” he says, “so my response was to come to Rome, where the mundane is infused with glory, and, as Fellini observed, ordinary people are encouraged to become characters.”

Since 2016, he has been living and working in the Italian capital, moving between his apartment in the historic centre and his studio in Trastevere, previously home to the legendary Gino De Domenicis – another artist known for playing with reality, most famously faking his own death.

“In Rome, nothing is as it seems, and that’s how I define ‘baroque’,” he says. “This baroque spirit becomes inescapable and irresistible to those who live here… This helps me situate my work, which often has performative, theatrical, or trompe-l’oeil qualities, in a mythical world between truth and fantasy.”

Taylor’s approach is a blend of inspiration and improvisation, finding ideas in history and traditional crafts while pushing the envelope to create new forms and new fabrics, and to answer new questions. He says:

“Like anyone, I have sources and influences but a designer’s job is to make harmony between those influences and his or her own point of view, hopefully with a sense of humour and not too much ego.”

 

 

Photography by T.C. Moore.

 

 

 

Shop F. Taylor Colantonio

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