Mattia Paoli Noj, born Mattia Paoli (Florence, November 28, 1991), is a painter, photographer, sculptor, graphic designer and nft artist, well known and appreciated abroad. He is most famous for his paintings with car wheel tires. His artistic research explores new creative approaches and investigates the visual relationship between real objects and their representation.
Mattia Paoli was born in the province of Florence, in a small village in the municipality of Bagno a Ripoli called Antella, on Nov. 28, 1991. His mother, Carla Fossi, also an artist, transmitted her passion for art to him, intuiting her son’s creative skills. Paoli studied graphic design-advertising and graduated in 2010. During his early years of study in high school, he developed an important passion for photography, thanks to work experience at Gianni Ugolini’s Photography Studio. In September 2011 he began his studies in Design at the University of Florence and completed them in September 2016, graduating with honors. At the University of Florence he deepens the three-dimensional relationship between object and space during Massimo Ruffilli’s Product Design course, supported in collaboration with designer Luca Bucciantini. With the latter he collaborated from 2016 to 2018, painting on commission some canvases for the interior design of a variety of villas in Livorno.
His interest in cutting-edge technology is confirmed by the development of the Master’s Thesis, discussed and elaborated together with his colleague and partner designer Claudia Becchimanzi. The thesis project, titled S.A.M. (Scan, Alter Ego, Monitor), consists of the proposal of a wearable device with innovative e-textiles technology components, for the implementation of new technologies to the biomedical sector. The Tutor is Prof. Francesca Tosi, the Co-tutor is Prof. Alessandra Rinaldi, and the external Co-tutor is Dr. Rita Paradiso, CEO of Smartex, a company of Polo Tecnologico di Navacchio, which developed and tested the project prototype.
In conjunction with his university studies, Paoli devoted himself to painting and photography, studying new digital and pictorial techniques of representation for the creation of abstract shapes and totally innovative material surfaces. His distinctive, informal language was born with the use of discarded materials in the garage of his family home. During his early years he painted on wood panels using putty, glue and varnish, marking the surfaces with tire tracks. His early artworks titled Blue Way, Choice, Meeting and Passage are characterized by textural surfaces that convey a fleeting impression of human existence.
His first public exhibitions are through group shows in 2013 at the Gadarte Gallery in Florence. He exhibits mostly photographic works repainted with photo retouching software. His research develops in two areas: digital and pictorial-material processing.
The first international exhibition is in Miami at Spectrum in 2017. In the same year he exhibits his first 3D printed sculpture in Marina di Pietrasanta, at the prestigious Tornabuoni Art Contemporary Art Gallery.
His first solo exhibition is in April 2018 at Gadarte Gallery and is entitled “Traces in Time.” The works exhibited represent a comprehensive journey of his multiple genres of expression up to that time.
In 2019, in Rome, he gives his first interview to Aracne TV, in which he talks about his “Folded Art” painting period. Defined by artist Mattia Paoli as “folded art,” his representations are abstractions of everyday life.
Since 2020, during the covid-19 pandemic, he generates many new paintings and digital works, refining techniques: for painting he uses Jute canvases made from Coffee sacks – supports made by Master Craftsman Carlo Mottola of Aversa.
Recently he has been developing works in the digital world of NFTs on the Opensea platform.
In 2021, with designer Claudia Becchimanzi and the University of Florence, he is exhibited with the project “S.A.M.” at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
In 2022, “La Bussola Edizioni” publishes Mattia Paoli’s first book titled “FAT People and things,” a collection of drawings of “fat little men” that recounts the social dynamics the artist was able to observe during the period of the covid-19 pandemic.
To today, Mattia Paoli’s artistic activity already counts more than 500 pictorial works and nearly 1,000 digital works.
In April 2022, through printed and digital catalogs published on ISSUU’s e-book platform, the artist divided the works into five macro-categories: Abstractionism, Folded Art, Universe, Wheel, Figurative and Sculpture.
Many of his abstract works portray his emotional states. In the varied informal works he produces strong color contrasts through the use of multiple techniques: some very textural and others very light. The composition of the works often develops on two planes: a coarse relief part and a smooth surface in the inner layers. The “extemporaneous painting technique” is his method of success: on any kind of support he reproduces his own state of mind determined by everyday life.
“Folded Art” or Folded Art is an innovative technique she elaborates during her first experiences in the fashion world between the years 2016 and 2018 , mainly by observing industrial leather processing in Tuscan factories.
Through her art, the artist expresses the heavy environmental pollution of some industries in the animal leather processing sector. Toxic fumes from the industry and the spilling of hazardous liquids into the environment are a negative and determining aspect in the color aspect of the folded art works.
His daily experiences are reflected in his painting practice with handwork reminiscent of leather tanning and tumbling.
The works are characterized by symmetrical patches of color that arise from folding the canvas with the application of portions of acrylic paint and varnish. Other canvases are airbrush-treated to give the medium a daubed appearance.
The titles of the works are inspired by cities and natural environments, example: Tuscan Countryside, Miami, Jaguar in the Forest etc.
The artist denounces through his works “the ‘excessive transformation of everything,'” recognizing a widespread inability of man to find beauty through in the purity of things.
From the beginning of his artistic activity he has been inspired by the minimal art and “Bioformism” of Canadian artist Agnes Martin.
Mattia Paoli often depicts planets and stars of the universe on a usual 100×100 cm canvas format, proposing the same geometric design several times: a huge circle in the center with two side stripes.
The artist paints pictures with precise geometric proportions, contrasting linear and curvilinear forms.
He sees planet Earth as a temporary place that will one day run out of natural resources vital to the existence of species.
For his works he is inspired by NASA’s “Earth Similarity Index” project from which he seeks shapes and colors for his subjects: planets and solar systems with potentially habitable zones.
Mattia Paoli in the collection “Wheel” elaborates his artistic research of graphic signs created by human activity in cities. Higher studies in graphic design and undergraduate studies in design help the artist develop the synthesizing ability to stylize “subjects” into minimal forms: patches of color made through the use of car tire tires or drafts of linear color painted through the use of rollers.
A large collection of these works was exhibited for his first solo exhibition in 2018.
The exhibition was titled “Traces in Time” and was held at the Gadarte Gallery in the historic center of Florence.
A recurring theme in the works is the composition and decomposition of matter, attributable to the unstoppable action of Time.
The more material works are made with more waste materials: plastics, metals and wood.
The artist has the need to decompose, to see beyond, the matter to know its meanings and experimenting with new techniques.
The collection “Wheel” is a series of works that help to better know Mattia Paoli’s creative process of internalizing the external world.
The chaos of the substrate, which is complex and never unambiguous, generates admiration and dismay in the artist who, in order to express such ideas, is led to seek changing and ever-evolving signifiers.
Rationalization follows, geometry trying to contain the unstoppable river of concepts and the Heraclitean succession of logos. The product of such alchemy is a chromatic explosion, with polymers, yarns and metals from which cascades of paint flow. Gold, white and black dominate, as a primordial antithesis from ancient origins, interspersed with golden light, a depiction of the infinite. Eternity also materializes through the “plastics” of the paintings and sculptures, which, symbols of time, seem almost to merge and become an indissoluble element of their surroundings.
“Traces in Time,” besides representing a path, also becomes a tool to observe, from multiple points of view, the polyvalence of reality. The exhibition allows one to start from the subjective experience of the artist, who “shatters” the means at his disposal to recreate works that reproduce the eternity of moments as microcosms protected by plastic membranes and caged in repetitive signs.
The visit becomes, then, a purely individual, personal, reflective journey.
In addition to previously unpublished works, the exhibition presents the artist’s early works made through the use of wheels and circular objects that, dipped in paint, allowed him to draw marks similar to irregular road surfaces. These traces manifest that “spontaneous gesture” that comes out of routine and is transformed into a work of art, breaking the cyclical nature of the everyday in an attempt to chase the fleeting eternity of time.
(Excerpt press made by Claudia Becchimanzi, April 2018)
A long series of figurative works accompany the artist’s career and alternate with periods of informal abstract art. The subjects portrayed vary from elements of the natural landscape to humanoid figures symbolizing the flaws or merits of today’s society. Mattia Paoli makes self-portraits of himself, identifying with an imaginative character called Mr. Noj.
Mr. Noj is the artist’s alter ego who, in an imaginative way, embodies a character with a strong smoking habit and an intrinsic passion towards the decadent world.
The pictorial media are small to medium format and are often rough canvases made by a specialized workshop in Aversa by the well-known artisan Carlo Mottola.
Mattia Paoli delves into the use of 3D design programs during his useful years of study at the University of Florence.
Later he implements his skills as a designer, working in the fashion industry. In the year 2016, he collaborated with Tornabuoni Art gallery to create his first sculpture entitled Sophia, a 3D printed spherical structure with P.L.A. plastic materials. Another 3D printed work is Nadja, inspired by the main subject of the book of the same name written by the father of Surrealism André Breton. The two works symbolize the infinity of the cosmos through curvilinear and rounded structures that seem to break down in space and time. It is possible to identify an analogy in the dynamism of the previous three-dimensional works with Umbero Boccioni’s sculpture “Unique Forms of the Continuity of Space,” a work that Mattia Paoli had the opportunity to observe in 2016 at the Pecci Museum in Prato.
Many other sculptures are ready-made produced in 2022 from discarded materials, the best known being the Multicolor Chair and the Black Chair; revisitations of old 20th-century chairs in a contemporary key. Through the sculptures, the artist searches for the relationship between the past and the future, which is sometimes in close connection with the world around us and identified by “antique” furnishings contextualized in environments with different styles. The works symbolize today’s human difficulty to innovate the surrounding environment. Past memories and the “fetish objects” to which they are attached restrain change, leaving incomplete a possible new reality that finally results in a mere “disguise.”
In the field of sculptural techniques, the artist experiments with working with ‘clay, making the first prototypes of the series of “fat little men”: stylized characters with rounded forms that symbolize daily life in a bizarre way, foiling those aesthetic and psychological constraints imposed by today’s society.
The artworks in the “Liquid” collection stem from the artist’s earlier experimentation with the figurative genre. Initially during the 2020/2021 lockdown for covid, the artist depicts faces of known people in black and white on textural surfaces composed of a lot of glue and putty that slowly appear to be sliding downward in a slow, melt-like motion. The meaning of the abstract representations is the author’s passivity to social dynamics reflected in an inner emptiness and conflict with today’s society, which is often oriented on an economic reality not based on people’s psycho-physical well-being but on the consumption of the surrounding world and “vital time.” The artist believes that the main cause of the “social conflict” is the current capitalist economic system that stifles the individuality of the individual in favor of a “single thought,” orienting public opinion toward the pursuit of an inpropriate lifestyle “produced” by the ‘consumer industry.
The latest liquefied works are abstract color compositions with vertical color drippings. The works symbolize the passage of time and the loss of form of reality.
Artist Mattia Paoli’s vast collection of digital works range from minimalist to ‘informal abstract.
The works are divided into three macro-categories: 3D, 2D and Photos.
The 3D category are solid reworkings of physical and ethereal things into abstract three-dimensional forms, the most significant graphics are three reinterpretations of natural elements: water, fire and wind.
In the second 2D category are raster stylizations and abstract vector drawings.
The artist’s quest is to create new textures on the large format and invent visual disturbing effects on photographs taken of people and objects, blurring and distorting subjects on abstract backgrounds characterized by flat colors and repetitive elements.
In early 2022, Mattia Paoli made his first collections of NFT works: some are rasterizations of frames of some of his abstract paintings, reducing complex images into mosaics composed of a few pixels.
The recurring operation of making modifications on previous paintings is a way to reevaluate his artistic work, making parallel works with different meanings.
The photography section includes reportage subjects, abstract and realistic shots.
The artist uses digital and analog cameras including a Canon 500D digital model and two film cameras: a Yashica FR-I and a HOLGA 120 CGFN. Mattia Paoli captures architectural elements and natural vistas in the shots, taking care of framing and enhancing curvilinear and straight forms in the surroundings. The importance of color contrast is a dominant quality in his photos.
Some abstract images, characterized by strong blurring and light glare, are made by shooting with photographic calibrations and later processed with darkroom post-production processes.
In Italy, during the most difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the artist keeps a diary of drawings of fat little men.
Stylized figures of people and things performing everyday actions. Matti Paoli depicts, in a cartoonish manner, members of his family, friends and acquaintances with fat bodies moving in two-dimensional spaces.
The sketches are a brief reflection on modern society that imposes stereotypes that nullify the individual’s single existence. The fat little men in their being are free, freed from social impositions on body fashions and behavioral stereotypes.
April 2022 saw the release of his first book on fat men entitled “FAT PEOPLE AND THINGS,” produced in collaboration with La Bussola publishing house.
The book is a picture story of the moments imprinted in the artist’s daily reality.
To today, Mattia Paoli’s artistic activity already counts more than 500 paintings and nearly 1,000 digital works, collected in two large volumes Abstract Paintings Portfolio 2022 and Digital Art Portfolio 2022.
The artist in 2012 designed the first NOJ logo, the shape is the intersection of three letters that make up a stylized human figure.
The acronym is an abbreviation of the English phrase “No Justice,” which symbolizes the artist’s desire not to conform from the beginning to the contemporary logic of Art. The artist’s research focuses on experimenting with new techniques for the representation of his emotions. The desire not to immobilize oneself in a certain artistic genre characterizes all of Mattia Paoli’s production, which, evolving in a continuous cycle, always loses its stylistic recognizability. However, the NOJ logo becomes a pseudonym of the artist, inserting the symbol in the works as a signature of recognition.
Mattia Paoli with his original artistic approach is at odds with social conformism and especially with conformism toward himself.
In 2019 he concretized his project and founded the Contemporary Art Gallery NOJ Culture.
2021 – Venice, Italy.
Venice Biennale exhibition of the S.A.M. design project.
2020 – Florence, Italy.
Foundry Gallery exhibition of the painting “Blue way” group exhibition.
2019 – Miami, USA.
DAC Gallery Red Dot art event, Art Basel week.
2018 – Florence, Italy.
Gadarte Gallery “Traces in time” solo exhibition.
2017 – Florence, Italy.
OnArt Gallery “Absence and presence” group exhibition.
2017 – Forte dei Marmi, Italy.
Tornabuoni Art exhibition of sculpture “Santa Sophia” group exhibition.
2016 – Florence, Italy.
Artetra “Sandro Botticelli prize” group exhibition.
5/6/2022 the work entitled “A.D.I. Tree during a fire” selected for the Art collection “Fury of Mother Nature” for Singulart Art Gallery.
9/20/21 the work titled “Citrus Limon #1” selected for Art Advisor Rebecca Wilson’s collection for Saatchi Art Gallery.
11/8/2021 the work titled “Dante” selected for the “William Blake” Art Collection for Singulart Art Gallery.
21/1/2021 ‘work titled “Fire” selected for “Mathilde Fachan’s zodiac collection” for Singulart Art Gallery.
10/23/2016 II painting prize “54th Silver Thistle Prize” group exhibition at “Sala delle Vetrate” Caffè Letteraio le Murate, Florence Italy.
6/9/2014- I painting prize Under-25 “Ninth contemporary painting exhibition Bagno a Ripoli”, Bagno A Ripoli Italy.
5/11/2013 – I photography prize “Cardo d’Argento”, Auditorium of Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, via Folco Portinari, Florence Italy.
Mattia Paoli, Fat People and Things, La Bussola Edizioni, 2022, ISBN 979-12-5474-072-9.
Mattia Paoli, Mattia Paoli Abstract Painting Portfolio 2022, NOJ Culture Art Gallery, 2022.
Mattia Paoli, Mattia Paoli Digital Art Portfolio 2022, NOJ Culture Art Gallery, 2022.
Mattia Paoli, Fat People and Things Silver Edition, Utopia Stories, NOJ Culture Art Gallery, 2021.
Mattia Paoli, Art Portfolio, NOJ Culture Art Gallery, 2020.
Official website, at www.nojculture.com.
Aracne TV interview, Stage Space episode no. 212.
Browsable portfolio link, Issuu platform.