Observing and exploring the world through the eyes of an artist, Matteo Mauro seeks new and refreshing solutions to age old questions - providing context to understand the present and where we’re heading in the future. His drawing and creative techniques mix analogical and digital tools to generate artworks of a distinct contemporary sensibility. Using digital inscription technologies, Matteo is able to take an updated approach with a distinct perspective to tackle and deconstruct traditional styles of expression.
We caught up with Matteo as he concludes a transformative year for his career - reflecting on his current body of work and his exhibitions from the course of the past few months.
I know we spoke a few months back, it seems like you've had some explosive growth in this period - could you tell us more about what you've been up to exhibition and workwise?
At the time of our last conversation, I was about to release the En-Plein Air series, it was a year ago. “Time flies and I fly with it”, I used to say to a dear friend of mine who sadly passed away. It’s been an overwhelming year. I’ve been focusing on creating and disseminating, not allowing distractions to enter my lifestyle. My works made the rest of the story. Fruitful rewards came along that brought more audience to my research. Exhibitions, to name a few: Royal Academy, MACS, MEAM, Museo Crocetti, Marte Museum, Dubai Design District. But, what helped me the most was my rediscovered health and serenity; a transparent, resilient thinking which led me throughout this journey.
From your "Baroque" series - can you talk more about the work you've based this series upon? It seems a lot of the work ranges from the 1700s - early 1730s - what specifically about this time period interests you?
The main reason is I am currently submerged in it. I temporarily moved my studio to the city of Catania, which has been built and decorated in Baroque style. This is due to the fact that Baroque was the current trend at the time of the city’s latest reconstruction, following a destruction caused by a volcanic eruption and a massive earthquake. In this context, I couldn’t resist to offer my personal reinterpretation of those sinuous ornamental concepts.
Do you find people have a hard time deciphering your work? What would you say to someone who doesn't understand the meaning behind your work? (Someone who can't decipher the image perhaps)
I am the first person who finds it hard. In fact, I do not offer my artworks as objects to understand, but to feel. Has anyone succeeded in deciphering dreams? Can anyone decipher the overwhelming symptoms of love? Can you decipher the reason why you exist in your circumstances?
Some people tried to answer these questions, many have failed. Personally, it is a mind-game I don’t fancy playing. What I observe is that when people face one of these artworks at scale 1:1, they react to it.
How do you find the art market in Italy reacts to your work? Are they receptive to these digital landscapes and creations?
I am glad this question has been asked. There is something that scares me very much around here. I’ve been absent for almost 10 years, and coming back was a total shock. I feel the country is living the shadow of international cultures, which tries to imitate with very little success and most often misinterprets them. I am not just referring to the digital art scene, which does not really dwell here. I am horrified by how the main trends promote ignorance and the praudification of it. From Art to other disciplines, I can only see retrogracy, not originality (which instead we could well develop with our fantastic precedents). The nation invested in mainstream cultures only, neglected the subcultures, and social media didn’t really help with promoting good trends. The music scene is at the worst level, cultural venues are not attended by the youngsters, which are too busy posting stories of their mid-twenties immaturity. I am not saying that this is not a global reality, but I am afraid our context does not propose a real alternative to it. We absorb (copy and paste) fancy international trends, but since we don’t initiate them, we cannot have control over them and nothing ends up having solid roots to be further developed.
To conclude, after being ruled by the church, a dictator, a media tycoon, a clown and so on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an influencer ruling my country next.
Luckily, we can still rely on our history of art, but be careful people! Stone and paint do not last forever. We need to dwell on our future.
How has Instagram helped you develop your newest body of works? Does social media play a role in your inspirations?
Instagram helps me greatly in reaching people. At an early stage, I was using it as a source of inspiration too. But I recently moved back to established Art paper magazines, which avoid the pervasive addiction of scrolling away the evenings in a small scale world.
What would you say is your biggest inspiration? (Surroundings, human interaction, past artists, etc)
I am very tempted to include all that you mentioned, but those are what I call the tools to activate an inspired mind-set. Yet the source I always find when I pause and set my mind free from the unnecessary. My dreams are very visual. I take time to ponder whenever I can. That is when I can touch inspiration with my thoughts.
Have you had formal training for your impressive techniques? If not, how has training, or lack thereof, affected your process?
I had no particular training for the painting technique I use. Nevertheless, for some years I’ve been close to progressive artists who very much opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and self-developing art.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I like to think of myself in the best set and setting I could ever imagine.
Is there anything you can tell us about your next body of works?
I may temporarily shift away from the Micromegalic inscriptions. Perhaps testing new forms of physical art. I am currently working in collaboration with Ryan Burke, on my new series of paintings named Excessive Portraits. I still have Conceptual Art and some installations in the back of my mind. Finally, I’d like to keep writing my next books, which will include more of my personal story. Well, there’s a lot in my mind at the moment. I can mentally afford to wait for the flow of events to lead me where it feels, and I am less anxious about it. I always keep in mind Ron’s motto, ‘It's nice to end up in the evening with something that didn't exist in the morning’. This time I have no a clear image of what the evening will end up like, but I know there will always be an happy morning, and a creative day.
If we want to see your work on display, where could we look? Are you open to people coming to your studio as well?
My studio is open to visitors. Find the address on my website. I always have exhibitions around the world. My book and catalogue are currently for sale in the main online book shops and your local art books.