Sunday, September 16, 2007

Art Space Talk: Pedro Matos

Pedro Matos is an emerging artist from Portugal. Pedro started painting at the age of 16. This 18 year old painter displays a lot of raw talent in his work. His paintings, which are influenced by the Old Masters and street art, explore the plight of the downtrodden. These works contain a social message that demand consideration from the viewer. Keep an eye on this artist-- I expect great things from him.

AmmoBoro - Bullets Kill, 80 x 60 cm, mixed media on canvas, 2007

Brian Sherwin: Pedro, you were born in Santarem, Portugal. I've been told by artists from Portugal that it is very hard to find representation there-- it seems that it is hard to find a venue or outlet for contemporary art. Many of these artists strive make their mark internationally due to this. Do you agree with their opinions? Would you say that it is difficult to be a successful artist in Portugal?

Pedro Matos: I would totally agree with them. We don't have all the show openings neither the same amount of galleries as in the US or other European big cities. And the art scene is quite different too. From what I have tasted so far, in my country, your school diploma tends to be much more important than the work you create.

BS: Pedro, I've read that you have been drawing since you were a child and that you started painting two years ago (at age 16). You are currently in high school-- and are, for the most part, self-taught. Where do you plan to study art once you graduate high school? Or do you plan to continue teaching yourself?

PM: Although I believe that I will always be teaching myself for as long as I keep painting, I intend to go to the fine art school (university) in Lisbon, then continuing my studies abroad. I'm researching on London, Barcelona, Italy and maybe American schools too.
Untitled, 120 x 80 cm, mixed media on canvas, 2007

BS: You display a lot of raw talent for your age. Do you come from an artistic family?

PM: Thanks. Not at all, my parents are both science teachers, which keeps the drama even more intense.

BS: Pedro, at age 18 you've already had two solo exhibitions of your art and you have been involved in three groups exhibitions. Due to this you have had national and online press coverage. It seems that you are very ambitious for your age. Care to share some of your goals with our readers?

PM: What really matters to me is the moment I create. Once I have experienced that, I just want to make sure that I don't have to put an end on it. Succeeding in the art business is pretty hard, so I have been struggling a lot to go further and further. I just want to get my work seen, and I also try to make sure I can make a living as a painter.
(Un)noticed among the crowd, 50 x 40 cm, acrylic and oil on canvas, 2007

BS: Pedro, in your art you focus on 'humanity'. You create backgrounds that represent occidental modern society. These backgrounds stem from different elements-- including influences from graffiti, lowbrow art, and pop culture. Can you go into further detail about where you draw inspiration from? Who-- or what-- has influenced you?

PM: Aesthetically I've been mostly inspired by artists such as Caravaggio, Modigliani, Da Vinci, Shawn Barber, Dave Kinsey, Tiffany Bozic, Kat Von D. I've also been influenced by all the graffiti and street art I find out there. I'm still influenced from everything I experience in my day-to-day life. Traveling to a lot of different countries and getting to know a lot of different cultures took a big part on the role too.

BS: Your work often captures a sense of despair... of cultural and ethnic unrest-- tell us what these paintings are about. Do they serve as warning? A form of social message?

PM: As you can see, most of my characters are fading, melting, disappearing. Its not by a coincidence that I bring them into backgrounds that represent our society. I'm not as direct or genius as Banksy, but you can still say there are a lot of social messages in my work.
Chad Muska- private collection

BS: Pedro, one could say that you capture the grit of modern society within your work. With that said, would you say that there is still a ray of hope within the context of your paintings? Do you desire to convey a message that screams, "we can overcome this!"?

PM: You can never repair the damage done in the past. Same goes on where global warming is concerned. But you can always make a change and overcome a lot of problems. (before my characters are completely gone..).
Untitled,70 x 50 cm, Acrylic on canvas, 2007

BS: Pedro, tell us about your artistic process. How do you start a painting? Do you do preliminary studies? Or do you work from your imagination as you paint, so to speak?

PM: It works both ways. I have to do some preliminary studies for my portraits, and human figures. Especially when I change the facial expressions and so on. Everything else is from my imagination as I paint. Some of my works have other paintings in the background that I wasn't happy with. I start drawing my characters on the canvas and then I work from there. I like to paint with some music going on too, and I paint mostly at night.
Untitled, 80 x 30 x 5cm, acrylic on canvas, 2007

BS: Finally, is there anything else you want to say about your art or your goals as an artist?

PM: I want to keep learning and improving my painting skills so I can put all my ideas into action. I would like to approach humanity and the human figure from other perspectives in the future. I have also been painting happy and fulfilled characters that I find in under-privileged places. I represent them fading or disappearing in our modern and pop culture, because I find that same happiness and values disappearing too. I hope I get the opportunity to show my work worldwide, and just keep painting.
You can learn more about Pedro Matos and his art by visiting his myspace profile: You can read my other interviews with emerging and established artists by visiting the following page:
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

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