Mateu Velasco was born in New York City in 1980, but spent the better part of his life living and working in Rio de Janeiro. He is one of a small group of multimedia artists from Brazil’s arts capital who have caught the attention of international collectors in recent years. Known for his distinctive, explosive style, Velasco has been hailed as one of the few young Brazilian talents who can move with ease between innovative styles, unexplored themes, and deep into the murky depths of the social conscience.
His work—whether it be paintings on public walls or gallery canvases, objects, or animation—flip the everyday humdrum on its head, presenting the viewer with a new vision of the unnoticed, awe-inspiring interpretations of those crevices in the waking hours that otherwise would escape our thoughts.
Velasco is a graduate from the prestigious Pontificia Universidade Catolica, one of Rio’s premier Arts and Design universities. After completing his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design in 2003, where the young artist attended advanced courses in carving, illustration, computer graphics and experimental calligraphy courses, Mateu took his classical skills to the Rio’s gritty urban core. His street work in Rio is known for transcending common ideas of graffiti, and helped raise the bar in the early days of the city’s street art boom.
The experimental style Velasco created over years of painting on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Paris, Lisbon and Budapest, has a direct influence on the artist’s gallery and illustration work. But, once removed from the hustle of the public life, the powerful visuals from Velasco’s hands no longer fight for attention with the crowded urban landscape, presenting viewers with a thought-provoking focal point that commands meditation and introspection.
The artist’s vibrant, fragmented representations of life enjoyed for the sake of living are both invitations for repose and the starting point for a internal dialogue the viewer may chose to have with him or herself. His work offers viewers a break from a world obsessed with obsession, a chance to open the mind to the poetic possibilities of an existence withdrawn from the sometimes schizophrenic pace of modern living.
Velasco’s technical mastery and exploration of meaningful themes so often overlooked by other contemporary artists has gained his work a strong following of fans and international collectors. His frequent solo shows at Rio’s Galeria Movimento, one of the city’s most progressive galleries, draw an equal mix of fellow street artists, emerging contemporary talent, and both newly arrived and seasoned collectors.
A tireless creator, Velasco does not limit himself to one media and is bold in the democratic use of his work. His paintings are as likely to be seen on the walls in Rio’s Laranjeiras neighborhood or the gallery wall as they are in one of the campaigns for major lifestyle brands like Ambev, Nike, Converse, Totem, just to name a few.
Velasco’s artistic production, which takes cues from influences as varied as Klimt and Basquiat, melds high art concepts with graphic design techniques in a seamless manner; blurring whatever line remains between the two in the 21st century, making him a highly sought after artist for a range of quality products and visual campaigns.
Now based in Los Angeles, Velasco is soaking up the nuances of SoCal living and incorporating the idiosyncrasies of life there into a new stage of his work that is certain to be as dynamic and alluring as the work he’s done before. Perhaps more so, as the artist himself must now dive into the unknown and even deeper into his own identity as Brazilian-American out of the Marvelous City that has served as his muse for decades.
Galpão das Artes Recicladas: Intervenções | 2004 (Group) Solar Grandjean de Montgny: Prensa 1 | 2004 (Group) Solar Grandjean de Montgny: Prensa 2 | 2005 (Group) Centro Cultural Carioca: Untitled | 2006 (Solo)Centro Cultural Carioca: Salve Jorge | 2006 (Group)
Centro Cultural dos Correios: Estética da Periferia | 2006 (Group)
Paço Imperial: Extra Muros | 2007 (Group)
Severo172: Mix Up | 2007 (Group)
TemosEspaco: Em Preto e Branco | 2007 (Solo)
Les Taulliere (Paris): Prints e Gravuras | 2007 (Solo)
Artoyz (Paris): Toys Insolites | 2007 (Group)
Artzart (Paris): Crazy Bookshops | 2007 (Group)
MangeDisc (Paris): Music Machines | 2007 (Group)
BLVD gallery (Seattle):: TradeBloc | 2008 (Group)
00: POP Grafitti | 2008 (Group)
Parque Lage: Tocayo | 2008 (Group)
Homegrown: Nike Lanceiro | 2009 (Group)
Galeria Movimento: No Risco do Traço | 2009 (Solo)
Galpão das Artes Recicladas: Multigrab | 2010 (Group)
Galeria Movimento: _morphosis | 2011 (Solo)
FB Gallery (New York City): Fresh From Rio | 2011 (Group)
Galpão das Artes Recicladas: Multigrab | 2012 (Group)
Galeria Movimento: Avesso do avesso | 2012 (Solo)
Printa Gallery (Budapest): _Border Hop: Rio – Budapeste | 2012 (Solo)
Hellion Gallery (Portland): Pindorama | 2012 (Group)
Galeria Movimento: Abrigo |2013 (Solo)
ART RUA 2013: (group show)
Hellion Gallery (Portland): Welcome strangers | 2014 (solo)
Cass Contemporary (Tampa FL): Outsiders: from street to canvas | 2014 (group)