Artist Statement: Mateo Gutierrez
My singular mission as an artist is to reveal the universality of our human emotions in the hopes that this undertaking helps unite us through a species level awareness.
I am specifically focused on the underlying violent and self-loathing nature of the American social psychology by asking the viewer to see what they already see everyday recontextualized through the materials I use and the juxtapositions I present. I am questioning our own complicity in this respect, but not as an act of shame but as an act of self-empowerment. I believe that the sole project of art today is to live squarely within the realm of human emotions; art must allow us the opportunity to heal. This process is not easy and it is often painful, and it must include our own demons, our own complicity, our own failings; we cannot merely sit in judgment of others. I am asking us all to be more vulnerable, and in so doing experience our full range of emotions, because when we do, we would naturally, innately and unanimously reject and seek to improve the near total psychological failure of American society in which we find ourselves.
In my current hand-embroidered work I juxtapose similar bodily gestures as seen in groups of people during and after mass shootings with people crossing the US-Mexico border. I am presenting the similarity of the physical gestures of their pain and suffering. I am pointing to an underlying cultural truth of violence. I am seeking to bring this underlying cultural ethos to the forefront painstakingly for us to see and taste and feel, and not simply click away from as we do day after day, month after month, year after year. I get all of my images exclusively online from the endless news media bombarding us 24/7. My singular purpose is to honestly express this period in American history in its most exposed, violent and failed psychological state without irony, cynicism or any particular added level of intellectual depth or conceptual apparatus. I want us to stop and truly see it for what it is in a uniquely painful and honest manner, as only art can allow us to do.
Mateo Gutiérrez is a multidisciplinary artist who brings into question the underlying ethos of violence endemic to American history, culture and daily life. In his most recent work Mateo constructs large scale hand-embroidered paintings that tell a story of the traumatic conditions of modern American society through the lens of immigration and mass shootings. He sources his images and videos exclusively online.
Mateo was born in Geneva, Switzerland and raised in Tokyo, Japan before moving to the U.S. at the age of sixteen. In Tokyo he experienced firsthand a culture struggling between a traditional way of life and the contemporary influences of American globalism. After moving to the United States in his late teens, he struggled with his own conflicted relationship to the US. His work is both a sociopolitical and a deeply personal reflection on what it means to be American. Mateo presents a powerful critique of the traumatic effects of the so-called “American way of life” and also what it means to be an outsider as both foreign born and Latino. He cites his complex experience with the United States as central to his understanding of American cultural practices that are defined by racial and socioeconomic hierarchies engendering violence. Mateo sources his images online from news stories that he feels best depict a contemporary view of the traumatic effects of the underlying cultural code of violence in American society, stories that themselves make headlines for a short period of time and then are discarded from the cultural discussion, much like the people in the images themselves. In his work Mateo seeks to bring these all too often forgotten tragedies that litter the American landscape back to life, to make us look at them in excruciating detail by meticulously hand-embroidering them in artworks that, contradictory to the minute by minute social media news cycle attention span, take many months to make.
Mateo has a BA in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley and his MFA in studio painting from the University of Texas at Austin. He lives and works in Austin Texas. Mateo has exhibited nationally since 2005 in galleries and museums in Austin, Houston, Los Angeles and New York City.