Pedro Matos has fast built an art career for himself around the world by playing the role of curator, educator, and artist. In his latest solo show opening in Los Angeles at Martha Otero gallery, Matos continues to explore different languages of communication with his multilayered paintings and new ceramic tiled works. “Building Castles Made of Sand” continues the artist’s exploration into the impermanence of social and cultural values, while utilizing texture, patterns, and realistic figure painting to bring the works to life.
We caught up with Matos in his studio, to discuss his overall process, his show, and more…
This is your first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, can you tell us how you came up with the title of this latest body of work “Building Castles Made of Sand”? What does this show mean to you personally?
The exhibition “Building Castles Made of Sand” is my most ambitious exhibition so far in many ways. The title comes from the overall subject matter of my practice for this exhibition, questioning the fragility and ephemerality of our cultural and social values. Sand castles are a metaphor for that quality.
In this new body of work you’ve been focusing on working with a tradition ceramic tile medium, how was this to work with and did it present any challenges? How did you come up with the idea to work with this medium?
Ceramic tiles are a traditional portuguese “folk-art” medium since the 15th century, used as decoration to the facades of buildings with geometric patterns. I did the tile-panels for this exhibition in this traditional process, where everything is hand made since cutting the clay, hand painting, thing glaze etc. It’s a very long process that took a month to complete all the stages. I collaborated with a ceramic studio in Lisbon where I produced these pieces, while the paintings were done in the London studio. The biggest challenges come with the complexity of the production process with many stages additional to the actual painting, and also with it’s fragility and installation, but the outcome is very rewarding.
How have you feel your work has evolved over the past few years?
Looking back to my early work I see it’s much more simple and portrait-based, focusing on social problems I was trying to address. Today, I find my work has become more of a process to raise questions on cultural and social values rather than imposing one single statement. However it has been an on-going and organic process rather than radical shifts between one thing and the next, so it’s hard to draw the lines.
You are known for your realistic figurative painting, how do you pick your subjects to paint?
I’ve been using all sorts of references that best suit the subjects I need to use. From people I met, things I photographed, references I research online and library archives.. I have an ever growing source of references that I have been gathering and creating over the years, and go back to it often.
What’s do you do for fun outside of formally painting in the studio setting? What keeps you inspired?
All sorts of things, from traveling, running, cycling, skateboarding, studying, playing piano, photographing, and other projects I do like curating exhibitions. Inspiration comes mostly from the moments where I can clear my mind, think and wonder.
Any big plans on the horizon for Pedro Matos?
This month is the end of many simultaneous projects I had been working on. The solo exhibition at Martha Otero Gallery, a piece for the “Warrior Saints” at the National Army Museum, a group exhibition in Portland and one project in the Victoria Tunnels in Newcastle opening in June. In the horizon is reorganizing everything to start working on my next series and exhibition.
– Interview by Michael Cuffe for Warholian