The 70th sneaker mask made by Freehand Profit, the Air Jordan IV “Toro Bravo” mask takes the form of the iconic Chicago Bulls logo. Perry Brooks @bigbrooks8and9, from 8 and 9 West, modeled this art piece among the Pacific forests, forming this Minotaur’s natural labyrinth. The mask was commissioned by art collector, K. Santa @santaklaus36, who sacrificed 2 pairs of the 2013 Jordan release; the mask debuted in Miami for Art Basel 2013. The shirt is available from 8and9.com or by clicking here.
The “Toro” IV mask, like each new piece, brought new challenges. The handcrafted horns are something I had not tackled before. I had the challenge of making sure I created horns that were light weight yet sturdy, the horns also had to be precise and symmetrical in order to capture the spirit of the Chicago Bulls logo that inspired it. I ended up making a frame from heavyweight cardboard, filling the form with strong but not heavy materials and then applying thin layers of plaster and epoxy which could be sanded to a polished shine and then painted. The horns even included built in bolts for a flush fit to the mask. It took almost 2 months to figure out and execute the horns, which really slowed the process because other mask work couldn’t begin because the horns had to be bolted in and then built on and around.
There are many layers and levels to the work I create. Being able to decipher the work in it’s entirety can be daunting but the important thing to know is each individual viewer will unlock different understandings. For example the body of work as a whole is both a testament to creating art with the world around you as well as an examination of our materialism through my consumer vices as the artist. It also explores issues of identity within Hip-Hop and at the same time celebrates the sneaker and the Hip-Hop creative process. Each mask adds additional aspects to the meaning of the work. The shoe’s “Toro” nickname and the vibrant Chicago Bulls color way came together to give an identity to the mask itself. The photography is also integral to the work, in this shoot the “Toro” mask transforms itself and the wearer from bull and man to the legendary Minotaur. Historically speaking, some explain the Greek myth originating from human sacrifices performed by a Cretan priest wearing a bull head or mask – echoing the sneaker mask body of work’s recurring theme of sacrifice (destroying coveted kicks for the sake of art). In Dante’s Inferno the Minotaur was among the “men of blood”: those damned for their violent natures – an issue many men of the Hip-Hop generation battle with. From a personal interpretation of the mythical Minotaur, the labrynth represented the path of life and the stampeding brute of Death (the Minotaur) stomping at your heels. After all both the Minotaur and death are concepts monstrous but inherently human.