Seven sublime works by Daniel Mazzone, the Toronto artist beloved by Blue Jays and Wall Streeters
As a kid, Toronto artist Daniel Mazzone could be found at his artist mother’s side, helping cut pieces of stained glass and paint porcelian and ceramics. That childhood fascination transformed into a career creating mosaic portraits: he assembles historical artifacts like letters, magazine covers, newspaper articles and song lyrics like pieces of a puzzle. His works have caught the eye of the Blue Jays—José Bautista has commissioned 10 works by Mazzone and Marcus Stroman bought a piece at Art Basel Miami—and international business barons like luxury watch maker François-Henry Bennahmias and Wall Street honcho Randy Frankel. We asked Mazzone to tell us the story behind seven of his works.
Mazzone is fascinated by the beautiful intricacy of opera houses. Lady Opera isn’t anyone in particular, but a character composed of concert posters and photographs of famous opera houses from around the world—including the Vienna State Opera, Teatro La Fenice, Hungarian State Opera House and Liceu Barcelona.
Mazzone ripped up photos of flowers he’d taken on trips around the world—Italy, Paris, the Caribbean and beyond—to create this piece. Flowers are a common theme in Mazzone’s work, and the subject, Venus, is a character from his imagination representing women’s natural beauty.
This piece is composed entirely of Leonardo da Vinci’s works, including Lady with an Ermine, Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk and The Last Supper (visible in the vase). On the wall, there is a framed picture of Vincenzo Peruggia—the infamous Italian thief who stole the Mona Lisa in 1911—made from the front page of a newspaper the day the painting went missing. “I delve so deep into the research and put so much effort into each piece that I inevitably bond with the work,” says Mazzone. The flowers are made from comic books, one of Mazzone’s preferred materials to work with.
This portrait consists of eight of Chaplin’s most famous movie posters (Modern Times, City Lights, Jail Time and Gold Rush among them) as well as objects that reference his personal history. His shirt is made from ripped images of the British flag; the background is pictures of where he grew up in London; and the photos in his hat are pictures of Chaplin on stage and with his family. Mazzone incorporated pictures of the sky into Chaplin’s face, something he does with many of the icons he creates, as a way to say he followed his dreams. “I’ve never really loved TV, but I adore movies,” he says. “I have an old soul, so I particularly love old films. Chaplin movies are some of my favourites. He truly is a pioneer.”
“This was a commission I made for someone that had gone to see Hamilton and loved it,” says Mazzone. He created the founding father from pictures of the American $10 bill (his jacket), newspaper articles dating back to 1793 (his shirt), as well as American flags, famous works depicting Hamilton and pictures of his family (his face).
Robinson’s face is composed of photos from the Negro League, the division that he competed in before becoming the first African-American to play in the modern-era MLB. His jersey is made from pictures of his MLB team, and there are also photographs and works depicting Nat Turner, slavery and rebellions. “Jackie Robinson is very inspiring,” Mazzone says. “Without his great courage and dedication to baseball, sports would never be where we are today. He paved the way for equality in sports.”
Mazzone used his favourite works by the surrealist Mexican painter Frida Kahlo to create her face, and pieces by her husband, muralist Diego Rivera, for the flowers. “Even when she was sitting in bed with a broken back, told she may never walk again, Frida still had the love and passion to create beautiful works of art,” he says. “It’s so easy to give up when you’re down. She kept going.”