For the new edition of Art Basel, Mastrangelo has designed and built a lounge in which the new Audemars Piguet collections are the protagonists. This time, he opens the doors of his studio to tell us his story about creating The Valleé.
Your career began as an assistant to artist Matthew Barney. First, you focused on painting and creating videos, but later turned to sculptures. How come?
It was in the first year at the university that I decided to take a sculpture workshop and instantly fell in love with it. I think it would have been easier to be a painter, but I love the challenge that exists in sculpture. When I started making furniture, I realised that this easily opened the doors of people's homes. My artistic expression is reflected both in sculpture and furniture, where I look for functionality.
Where do you seek inspiration? Is there any artist or influences behind your work?
My inspiration lies in politics. I am inspired by what happens in society and culture. I have an opinion, and I want to express it through art. I have the opportunity to create something beautiful and make people question what is happening in their environment.
It's inspiring how you help emerging artists through your organization, In Good Company. What advice do you give these young people?
I advise them to build their own studio, without any influences of art galleries. This is how I handled my studies. I always tell them: be independent, do everything you can in the studio, and this will help you control the process, the quality, and the message of your work. They have thousands of doubts, they don't know at what price to sell their works, they don't know how to value their time, nor how to talk about their work. I try to teach how to be entrepreneurs of their own brands.
You created an exhibition in collaboration with Audemars Piguet, in which nature and watchmaking are the starting point. Was it challenging to form this relationship?
The truth is that it was not so difficult. Audemars Piguet took me to know his home in the Swiss mountains of Jura. There, I was able to experience Vallée de Joux, and it was the same thing I wanted to do with the exhibition. Make the viewer learn more about the Vallée and share with him my experience. The various tones and textures I saw in the crushed stones of Vallée de Joux inspired me to create a lounge to display the brand's watches.
Time is the central theme of this exhibition in a sense that goes beyond our minds. Could you explain this further?
I consider that time has more than a linear sense. Geologically, I mean drawing a parallel between the time it took for Earth to create the Vallée and the time it takes for a master watchmaker to create a piece by Audemars Piguet. With the lounge, I wanted to present a dialogue between the past and the present where the complex process of watchmaking, natural resources, the final assembly of the movement, and the watch case are present.
How did you manage to present the clocks on the stratified wall without being obvious?
This was a great challenge since watches are the centerpiece of the exhibition. I designed this wall to show the five components of the new Audemars Piguet collection: gold, brass, aventurine, sapphire crystal, and steel.
The Escape Lounge invites you to witness a sunset as if you were in Vallée de Joux. Why was it important for you to make this exhibition a sensory experience?
For me, the visitors needed to experience what I did in Vallée de Joux: a moment of disconnection in which they can relax and enjoy a sunset. The croissant-shaped walls are those that delimit the lounge area to show a black silhouette whose lighting creates a sunset with natural light.
What was it like collaborating with Audemars Piguet? What did you learn, and what was your favorite part?
It has been the best collaboration I have worked on. My philosophy and that of the Audemars Piguet are very similar in terms of quality and craftsmanship. I am proud of the materials I use, where they come from, and what they mean conceptually, and the brand has the same beliefs. They gave me complete freedom to create The Valleé, and this usually doesn't happen when you collaborate with other brands.