Don Mateo is a French street artist who is currently living in Lyon. I was glad to exchange a few words with him and get to know the artist and his work.
Why did you choose the name ‘Don Mateo’? Is there a story linked to this name?
I lived in Spain in 2006. The name Don Mateo is a reference to this period of my life.
What was your first experience with street art? What did you paint?
The very first time I painted something in the street happened when I was 12. I tagged a golden ‘fuck’ on my teacher’s car. That was stupid of me. Some years later, I carried out projects connected to the city. I remember painting a tank pink the day Mister Sarkozy became the new French President.
Why did you choose painting in the streets? How could you define your connection to the city?
I have been painting for 20 years now, but painting in the streets is for me a perfect balance. I feel no pressure, it’s a space of total freedom. Also, I have been hanging out in the streets since I am 14, this is where I have spent most of my time, with my friends.
What inspires you when you create?
Nothing special to be honest. Art is a means of expression, I need it.
We can notice that most of your works focus on female characters (women and little girls) What is the reason for that?
I find poetry, sweetness and strength in women. Unfortunately, I can’t find those in men. Since time immemorial, painters have been inspired by women, for example Ingres, Manet… Surprisingly, I focus on male characters when I have dark thoughts, but in general those are ideas I quickly get rid of.
In 2013 you made a collage ‘Fuck You’ in Lyon. To whom is it addressed?
I painted a character giving a finger on a wall. I liked the contrast between the grace of the character and the rudeness of the finger. The gesture is just a symbol to express angriness and rebellion.
What are your future projects in years to come?
Paint again and again.
To finish, we heard the police arrested the JAB collective in Lyon (April 26), with more than a million euros of damage to pay according to French media. What is your reaction to this?
I don’t react to this…. I am not interested in this. This kept the local press busy for a couple of days. I would rather read articles on good local artists but never mind…
Don Mateo, Submit or Fight, in Lyon (2015)
Don Mateo, Athena, in Lyon (2016)