I first became familiar with Pedro Matos in 2010 when two of his paintings were included in White Walls Gallery’s Winter group show. At that time, Matos’ work stood out to me for his use of negative space in his unique aesthetic and the technical expertise he demonstrates in his portrait work. When I heard he was going to have a solo show at Shooting Gallery, I was excited to learn more about his background, his inspirations and his latest show.

Below is the interview:

1. First off, tell me about yourself and your background in the arts? How long have you been painting?

I have always liked art and visiting shows and museums. When I was about 10 or 11 I started getting involved with graffiti and skateboarding but it was not until I was about 16 that I started painting in a more serious way. Skateboarding opened my eyes the underground art scenes that were going on in America, like “Pop Surrealism”, “Low brow”, “Street art”. I fell in love for everything and got the urge to start working on my own paintings.

2. How would you describe your work to someone?

I don’t think painting can be described. Text/words can be useful to support your work, but without imagery I think any description would be worthless.

Maggie: Good thing we have some pictures to go with this interview!

3. Besides environmental context, how does your street art differ from your gallery work? How is it similar?

I haven’t done anything on the streets for about a year now and I am not sure how both things are related. The things I am concerned about and feel the need to question and explore would be the same in any medium, but I have been focusing on the personal working process in my studio with painting.

4. I know your studio is in Lisbon, how would you say that city influences your aesthetic? I ask because I’m familiar with another artist, Vhils (Alexandre Farto) who is also from Lisbon. Though your visual styles are very different, I noticed you both seem to draw inspiration from heavily postered walls, layering and portraiture. I’m just wondering if there is a common inspiration stemming from the city itself.

I can definitely understand what you mean. I don’t know about Vhils, I cannot answer on his behalf, but if you ever visit Lisbon you can see how prevalent posters are. Things are constantly being ripped by people passing by, being posted over and over. After many months and years, there is this beautiful piece of urban decay, half done by human hands, half done by nature. I guess me and Alex both found that there was a lot of beauty in that. I am also influenced by traditional Portuguese patterns; I use a lot of that in my work. The city also influences my feelings towards people and seeing the world and humanity in a way I cannot find anywhere else. It’s not something I could not describe, you just feel it.

5. This is your first solo show at Shooting Gallery in San Francisco. Congratulations! What can we expect to see in this show?

It is! In this solo exhibition, titled “Ephemera”, I will be presenting a new body of work consisting in a total of 8 pieces. Seven of them are Oil paintings on canvas, and a cluster made out of Photographs and Drawings. Again, I wouldn’t know how to describe it.

6. Can you briefly describe your creative process, specifically for the works in this show?

I started working on this show months ago, and I do all the pieces at the same time. I mean, I jump from one to another as they have several different layers. I start by doing a background that aesthetically is inspired by what an old decaying wall looks like, and then I keep adding all the different layers with figurative painting, text, patterns, etc.

For more information about Pedro Matos, check out his website: http://www.pedromatos.org/

– By Maggie Pike for Warholian.com

(In addition to writing for Warholian, Maggie Pike also runs the website Gone Tomorrow SF which covers Street Art in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Check it out here: http://GoneTomorrowSF.com )

For more on the show, visit the Shooting Gallery here: http://www.shootinggallerysf.com/ephemera