Patrizio Pantoliano, who goes by his artist name of 1805, is one of a handful of artists on the planet perfecting the art of leather etching.
The artist hand-etches leather hides, typically imported from Italy, with an assortment of razor sharp knifes. By removing thousandths of a millimetre with each precise swipe of the blade he is able to create depths of detailing tones in the leather suede as his painstaking approach creates beautiful and powerful works of art. The material itself has incredibly raw and primitive qualities which are perfect for quintessential works which attract collectors imaginations around the world.
The Pantoliano family tree can be traced back to 1805 (where he gets his artist name from) when his ancestors first moved from Sicily, Italy, to The United States of America. He grew up on the Western Frontier beneath the majestic Colorado Rockies, and at a very young age, knives and leather became a part of his life as he rode horses and camped in the wilderness.
He says: “this is 'precision art'. You have to be present in that creative space throughout the process, and that’s what I love about it. Just like the great sculptures in history who carved the images of gods into marble, there is no room for error, one over zealous swipe of the blade can leave the piece in ruin."
Individual works can take weeks to produce, he adds: “Each knife gives a different finish so I make sure all the knives are super clean before I start any project. Using leather evokes a sensation that many other materials do not. I notice that when people come to my studio or see my works for the first time in a gallery, there is a reaction. This reaction is instinctive; some see leather as a super luxury material used by brands like Hermes and Ferrari while others see it in a more rugged way associating it with anything from ancient warriors in battle to the outdoors for work gloves and tough boots, while some, simply think SEX! For me it’s all of those things, leather is tough, it's sexy and it is luxury.”