Using Persian rugs and wallpaper as his canvas, Mateo Humano creates portraits that honour ancient cultures and celebrate the beauty and strength of women.
Last year, Enter Gallery hosted Ink and Paper, his first solo show in the UK. It was an enormous success with the people of Brighton quick to connect with his ‘monologues of the soul’.
We’re delighted to announce the launch of a new limited edition print from Mateo. Primavera is available exclusively at Enter Gallery now.
In today’s blog, we chat to Mateo to discover more about the symbolism contained within the work, and to learn why it’s such a special piece to him.
Mateo is known for weaving symbolism into his artworks, and this exclusive new piece is full of hidden meaning, starting with title.
In Spanish, Primavera means springtime - a time of year traditionally representing new beginnings and potential for transformation. Mateo reveals:
“There is a sadness to the piece that I represent with the bouquet of drooping flowers, but then her stance is more optimistic. She’s gazing ahead, defiant. There’s a sense of sadness, but she is also looking to the future with hope. For me, the piece represents going from hopeless to hopeful.”
Mateo reveals that he has been feeding more flowers into his work of late, a development seen in pieces like Muta, where his subject is captured with a flower in her hair.
This desire to incorporate flowers in his work is motivated by their presence in the patterns of the rugs seen across his oeuvre. In fact, since the first Persian rugs were woven, a custom that dates back as far as 400 BC, organic forms have always been woven into the patterns. Mateo explains:
“Persian rugs are a simulation of the garden, and they were traditionally put on the floor in the home or in the desert to represent a garden where there isn’t one. There are no flowers in the desert, so the rugs are there to symbolise the comforting presence of nature.”
“If you look at patterns in the rugs, you’ll see vines and flowers, and at the centre is the water element, the fountain. When I paint flowers, I feel like the piece is more connected to the rug that inspired it.”
As flowers carry different meaning depending on the species and the colour of the blooms, it’s little wonder Mateo is drawn to incorporating these depictions.
In Primavera, Mateo’s subject holds a bouquet of lilies, a flower that represents purity and spirituality. Yellow flowers are a symbol of happiness and optimism, and yellow lilies in particular are symbolic of thankfulness, joy and new beginnings.
Primavera is a special piece as it is the first artwork in which Mateo has deviated from his usual forward-facing portrait style.
Until now, his work has been about symmetry but here he breaks that tradition, representing his subject from the side rather than face on. Mateo explains how this piece came about during a moment of experimentation:
“I had this rug which was grey, blue and purple, but rather than having the typical symmetrical patterns that the rugs I work with usually have, it was more about texture and colour. I wasn’t sure how to approach it, but because it was a different type of rug, I thought I’d try a different type of portrait. Primavera is the result! It’s special because, for now, it’s the only one like this."
From deciding to experiment to choosing to present this work at Art Basel Miami, Primavera has taken Mateo on quite the adventure. He tells us:
“When I finished painting it, I looked at it for a long time and I saw something really special in it. It was powerful to do something different to what I usually do. It turned out well. It has encouraged me to do things differently. It unlocked something and I can’t wait to do more.”