Don Mateo is a French street artist currently living in Lyon. I was happy 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 associated with this name?
In 2006 I lived in Spain. The name Don Mateo is a reference to this period in my life.
What was your first experience with street art? What did you paint?
The very first time I painted something on the street happened when I was 12. I tagged a gold ‘fuck’ on my teacher’s car. That was stupid of me. A few years later I carried out projects related to the city. I remember painting a tank pink the day Mr. Sarkozy became the new French president.
Why did you choose street painting? How would you describe your relationship with the city?
I’ve been painting for 20 years now, but street painting is a perfect balance for me. I don’t feel any pressure, it’s a space of total freedom. Also, I’ve been hanging out on the street since I was 14, I’ve spent most of my time here, 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 see that most of your works focus on female characters (women and little girls). What is the reason for that?
I find poetry, softness and strength in women. Unfortunately, I can’t find it in men. Since time immemorial, painters have been inspired by women, for example Ingres, Manet… Surprisingly, when I have dark thoughts, I tend to focus on male characters, but generally those are ideas that I quickly get rid of.
In 2013 you made a collage ‘Fuck You’ in Lyon. Who is it addressed to?
I painted a character giving a finger to a wall. I loved the contrast between the grace of the character and the rudeness of the finger. The gesture is just a symbol to express anger and rebellion.
What are your future projects in the coming years?
Paint again and again.
Finally, we heard that the police arrested the JAB collective in Lyon (April 26), with more than one million euros in damages to be paid according to French media. What is your reaction to this?
I am not responding to this…. I’m not interested in this. This kept the local press busy for a few days. I prefer to read articles about good local artists, but never mind…
Don Mateo,Surrender or fightin Lyon (2015)
Don Mateo,Athensin Lyon (2016)