Celebrity dental surgeon by day, NYC street artist by night, Dr. Nicholas Toscano — 1PENEMY to his fans — is an artistic force defined by idiosyncrasies and dualities. While his list of clients in dentistry spans over 25 of the world’s most prestigious modeling agencies and hundreds of the world’s most photographed faces, 1PENEMY’s street art strikes a tone that stands starkly against the commodification of beauty.
The first 1PENEMY work to appear on the streets of NYC in 2016 featured a mugshot lineup of 90s supermodels: Kate Moss, Stephanie Seymour, Brooke Shields and Cindy Crawford. Wheat-pastes of their visages emblazoned on back alleys and graffitied walls suggested the subject as one part outlaw, one part object. 1PENEMY poses his work as a forceful statement on society’s perception of women today: held to an unrealistic standard of perfection and dehumanized for their performance of beauty. Meanwhile, Dr. Toscano has authored over 30 papers published in scientific journals on the subject of cosmetic surgery and reconstruction of the mouth. Therein lies a duality that straddles cultural critique with personal examination and adds depth to 1PENEMY’s work.
1PENEMY’s work also explores the emptiness of fame and the sensationalism of death, highlighting a society that considers women to be products rather than human beings. In this vein, 1PENEMY’s SOHO lineup work places the ultimate symbol of glamour and perfection in a context that represents society’s greatest failings. The effect is striking, creating a vague sense of discomfort in the viewer that speaks to our innate recognition of injustice.
Some of 1PENEMY’s other works are more grotesque variations — such as those featuring the makeup of Marvel’s Joker villain. They emphasize his philosophy on celebrity and consumerism in an even more pronounced fashion. Celebrities themselves are starting to take notice; Cindy posted his Soho model lineup artwork on her Instagram. This notoriety is leading art collectors to invest in this emerging artist’s work showing strong potential to increase in value.
The price of 1PENEMY’s physical artwork ranges from $1,000 to $20,000, making his work accessible to a broad audience. He recently had a successful NFT run, raising over $300,000 in 8 days. 1PENEMY is also a humanitarian who seeks to utilize his artwork to benefit more charitable causes. He recently undertook a COVID-19 NYC mask awareness street campaign featuring Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman that gained international press attention in Hello Magazine, The Daily Mail and Variety.
What is your take on the meteoric rise of interest in NFTs?
“I think it’s so exciting as we are watching history take place with art and NFTs. I think as more and more money pours into the crypto world, the value of NFTs will also go up. I never imagined that things would blow up like this but I’m glad I am on the front of the wave rather than trying to catch up.
Moving into the NFT space seemed like a natural progression as NFTs have been blowing up worldwide and as people continue to embrace cryptocurrency. It made sense to add NFTs to my art as a whole. I think it also adds incredible value to my collectors who hold my physical art.”
What does the concept of digital scarcity mean to you? What does it mean for street artists?
“I think NFTs resonate with collectors because they can be directly connected to the value of the artist — and they are able to flip NFTs for higher prices based on the demand for that artist’s work. However, I think NFT collectors really need to be careful what they invest in. Right now, so many people are dropping NFTs so it’s hard to know the long term value and sadly some may end up worthless.
Some advice: I think one should invest in NFTs connected to artists that have value in their physical art or have proven sales in the art world. I also think it’s important to invest in NFTs that have scarcity because if an artist floods the market with NFTs looking for a quick cash grab, the value of those NFTs may drop over time.”
Why did you decide to list your work on Portion?
“I really like Portion. I think the platform offers a highly curated art collection for its members and brings true value to art and NFT collectors. There are many sites that are just putting anything out as an NFT, and I think Portion really tries hard to offer quality to its collectors. I’m excited to be a part of the Portion family and excited to release new works soon to collectors.”
Tell us a bit about your work that’s listed on Portion. What was the inspiration behind the pieces?
“I listed two mugshots from my art series on Portion. The Kate Moss piece has existed since 2016. The Mandalorian is brand new, and thought it would be cool for collectors to have since it’s a show with such notoriety right now.”
Take a longer look at how 1PENEMY got started in his career as a street artist:
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