“Praise for poets and other artists”, “Deeply ordered chaos” or “Accidents, failure and something else” are some representative works of Pedro Matos that interestingly highlight the artist’s creative statement and concentrate on decay, deconstruction and deterioration. The Portuguese-born Pedro Matos (b. 1989) studied Fine Arts at the University of Lisbon and continued his studies at the Central St. Martins College in London and now lives in Lisbon. Matos is an emerging artist who has presented his work internationally from the UK and Italy to the US, Spain, Mexico and Portugal.
Mainly producing abstract paintings, Matos aims to examine the imagery of the urban space and the fundamentals that embody it. Social concerns are significantly linked with his works; artistically, abstraction functions for him as the means to deliver artworks that confront ideas about the ephemeral side of our reality. His creative investigation uses displacement and the process of rotting and decomposition of the urban landscape.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
Depicting diligently unfinished or beautifully deconstructed representations, Matos’ works usually challenge our perception of human imperfection as well as about the material reality we live in. Although the decay often produces negative thinking, underlying the inevitable end of our material world, there is still an aesthetic potential within it that embodies important elements of enlightenment. Deconstruction is associated with the human existence; the artist not only aims to familiarise the viewer with this idea, but also to simplify it.
His artworks are usually accompanied by thoughtful titles such as “Deeply ordered chaos”, “You can get it for the rest of your life”, “I was waiting for a rail replacement bus in Hackney Wick”; Matos underlines the dynamics of this paintings by long or poetic names, which create an additional aesthetic value on the artwork’s identity. Instead of “untitled” artworks, the artists indicates his preference for a more intimate approach towards his art and the viewer. As a gallery visitor, I always pay attention to the titles that may add an alternative read of the artwork, which I particularly feel engaged to. Matos’ rather personal naming of his works is not just an act of confidence, but also a generous exposure of the artist, allowing greater engagement and room for interpretation.
Matos’ visual vocabulary has not been limited to minimalist or abstract artworks, but he has also experimented with a realistic figurative painting style, infused by the artistic mixture of the long-lasting Portuguese azulejo technique, as well as new media art elements. Once again, there is a hidden dialogue between tradition and contemporary art themes in his art; heritage values and ideas are deconstructed and fresh cultural outcomes complete the aesthetic base of Matos’s artistry.
I recently had the chance to explore Matos’ artworks at the Dot Project art space in London, where an interesting group exhibition shed light on other Portuguese emerging artists, too; like Paulo Arraiano and Ricardo Passaporte. Now, in this interview with ArtVerge, Pedro Matos opens up his temperament and shares interesting details not only about his art identity, but also about his attitude towards life as a modern young man.
ArtVerge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Pedro Matos: It changes from series to series, but all start in the idea, reference or concept, then go through some sort of simulation (photoshop, scaled model, etc) and then to the final materialisation of it.
Do you have a favourite book, film or painting, which inspires you?
I couldn’t choose just one, there are many that inspire me and they change overtime.
When was the latest video you watched on social media and had an impact on your mood? Which one?
Probably Beagle Freedom Project, a facebook page of the organisation that rescues beagles from lab testing and helps to find them homes.
Creating a new painting is a solitary process. If this applies to you, when you concentrate on a new artwork does it affect your social life at all?
One single painting doesn’t affect my social life, but if a big project is reaching near the deadline, let’s say a solo exhibition for example, then my social life becomes inexistent for some days or weeks. I try to make it up once everything is finished though.
How do you know when a painting is finished?
When it doesn’t bother me anymore.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
It is a two-floor unit in the east side of Lisbon, which is the most industrial part of the city and where a lot of galleries and studios are. I am not sure how it affects my process, but it does have some size limitations, there is a scale cap I can not go over otherwise I wouldn’t be able to move them to the floor I am located at, that’s the only downside for now.
Which exhibition did you visit last?
I think it was either Galeria Madragoa or Hawaii-Lisbon, both had openings in Lisbon recently.
What is your favorite time of the day?
What does your mum think about your art?
She like it better when I was doing figurative work.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I think my natural tendency is to be a night owl, so I try to counter it and wake up relatively early.
Is the glass half empty or half full ?
Half water half air, always full.
Which are your plans for the near future?
I am opening a solo presentation project at Eduardo Secci Contemporary in Florence in a few days, and working on a couple commissioned works.