ARTIST STATEMENT: Carlos Mateu was born in 1970 in Havana, Cuba, and has resided in the United States since 1997. As a teenager he attended The Paulita Concepcion Vocational School of Art where he studied painting, engraving, sculpture, drawing and art history. He later studied mechanical drawing at the Fernando Aguado y Rico Technological Institute, and completed his formal art education at the renowned San Alejandro National Academy of Fine Arts. This combination of studies served to develop and refine his technique and style, as well as to solidify his desire to make art a lifelong profession.
Before coming to the United States, Carlos worked as an illustrator, poster artist and graphic designer for a publicity agency in Havana, where he created visual materials, presentations and architectural models for a wide variety of domestic and international companies, many of which earned awards at industry conferences (Alimexpo, Tecnotur, Feria de La Habana, etc). Here in the United States, he has exhibited his work in an extensive list of galleries and art competitions. He is known for the murals that he has done for different restaurants and schools in the NYC area. More recently, Carlos was commissioned to lead a mural project at Hostos Community College, he was selected as one of the 60 Masters of Contemporary Art by Art Tour International Magazine in 2014, also as one of three Latin artists of the 2015 Hispanic Edition of Thompson's Unity Magazine., etc.
He calls his style geometric pop. His paintings fuse elements of cubism with realism, using straight lines and perspective to create a geometric and three-dimensional effect, while subtly deforming the images. Intense colors of acrylic are applied in layers like silkscreen, creating clean and precise divisions between tones, textured further with oil pastel. His subject matter incorporates surrealism and mysticism to reflect the Afro Cuban life and religions, memories of Cuba, his life in the United States and his own creative perspective on the world around him.
Carlos Mateu is also the founder of "Proyecto Concepción," a gathering of former classmates and teachers from The Paulita Concepción Vocational School of Art (Middle School). The group first exhibited in 2010 in the US, in 2013 at it's first "Biennial Concepción Exhibition" in Havana and at the University of CT.
Carlos was trained as an Art Teacher by Joan Mitchell Foundation. During six years working for that organization, Carlos had been teaching for different after school programs, leading a portfolio prep for middle school students, etc. He works sporadically as an art teacher for Dedalus Foundation, formally he teaches for Saint Nicks Alliance, River Bank State Park, and as a Salsa/Cuban dance instructor for Abrons Art Center. His art work is represented by Galleria 360 in Florence, Italy.
He was inspired by a rich culture of art and music since childhood.. His great grandfather was Obdulio Villa (nick named Pabellón), one of the most famous saxophonists of the 1920’s, who played worldwide with Moises Simon’s band, composer of the internationally known song “The Peanut Vendor”.
Dancing came hand in hand with this native musical education, which was a part of any and all social gatherings. Later he dedicated himself to the study of the theory and history of Cuban music, and participated in lectures, discussions, and performances held by UNEAC (National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba) with leading musicologists such as Helio Orovio, author of the “Encyclopedia of Cuban Music”.
In NY, Carlos has danced with a number of dance groups, teaching dance and music workshops at Williams College, Massachusetts, at Harbor Conservatory of Music, at Museum of The City of New York, at American National History Museum, at Alvin Ailey as a guest fine artist and dancer of Oyu Oro Afro Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble, he was at The NY Salsa Congress 2012 representing The Roots of Salsa lead by the Dancer and Choreographer Maykel Fonts.
Carlos has been invited to share the stage on more than one occasion with top traditional Cuban bands touring US like Septeto Nacional Ignacio Piñeiro, Los Papines, Conjunto Chappotin in the Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center in 2014, Grammy Winner Septeto Santiaguero in 2016, etc.
In 2015 Carlos founded his performance group Herencia D' Cuba and the same year the group won the second prize at Concurso Folclórico Latinoamericano sponsor by Desfile de La Hispanidad. He was invited by Teatro Gaia to perform in Havana, Cuba and also La Casa del Son invited him to teach and perform the same year in Havana at Baila Cuba 2016 (International Salsa Festival). Carlos has been participating in different music videos with Chino Pons & Grupo Irek (song: El Tiqui Tiqui) and recently with Jose Conde & Ola Fresca (song: Un Puente a Mi Gente), etc.
Actually Carlos works as an art teacher and dance instructor for Saint Nicks Alliance, River Bank State Park and Abrons Art Center.