In the Studio with Lorena García Mateu

In the studio with Lorena García Mateu, whose practice explores the search of colour and its harmony, claiming to arouse atmospheres charged by mystery, movement and uncertainty. We met with Lorena to tell us more about growing up in Valencia, their greatest influences, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

When I was little I was always painting or drawing like almost any girl, I think the difference was that I always saw my mother paint, it was her biggest hobby. She encouraged me to start learning oil on canvas, charcoal… And I discovered a passion that has never left me. I remember one specific day that my mother was in the kitchen with her easel painting a Parisian landscape in oil, there I decided that this was what I wanted to spend as much time as possible when I was older, so I never abandoned the colors or the brushes.

 Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?

I am from Valencia (Spain). It is a Mediterranean city where light, good weather and sunny days define it. Consider that this has influenced my painting, like so many other artists, in the use of color above all but also in working with very vital themes. In addition, my studio is on the outskirts of the city, surrounded by a large garden that has been a direct inspiration to work.

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice, artistic work?

My main artistic interest has always been color, to achieve a rich and complex harmony that works in the painting. My first years as a student were absolutely searching without getting great results, I will be a continuous learning without reaching finished works.
Years later, I found my own language by mediating the series “The Secret Garden” in which I was able to harmoniously approach the color and theme. This series changed something in me as an artist and it was where I felt that I had found something authentic. From this moment nature became a recurrent theme in my work.

What’s the message of your work? How would you describe your aesthetic? 

For me painting is a search for beauty and a dialogue with spirituality where the mysteries of rebellious life. It is a staging with creativity and with oneself that ends up being something universal when comparing itself with others. Painting is a bridge between the inner and the outer world. Therefore, if I have to specify what my message is, I would say that it is to put in front of the viewer the mystery of creativity and what it originates in each one.

Who/what are your greatest influences?  

I am passionate about art in general, but above all about painting, which is what I enjoy the most. The images create other images as David Hockney says so I study a lot of painting by other artists. I like different and varied artists as well as times. As examples I can cite Boticelli and his use of color, Picasso and his inexhaustible creativity, the surrealists and the free use of space, abstract expressionism by Helen Frankenthaler that provokes emotions that I cannot explain with words, the painting full of mystery of Michael Borremans, the absolute certainty that it is art in capital letters compared to painting by Lucian Freud or the joy of painting by Matisse.

An unexpected source of inspiration?

As an artist, inspiration comes from everything, from any small detail or from a great work. Something that marks my work and that is a source of inspiration is the vegetation and nature of my daily spaces. For example, many paintings that I have made have been created from the observation of fallen leaves of the trees next to my study that have been deposited in small piles and that give rise to some very interesting colors and shades. There I find metaphors of life and death, the passage of time, the different seasons, infinite compositions, dynamics and rhythms … And of something that goes so unnoticed and that is almost a natural waste, it generates a series of mental images for me which I then try to capture on the canvas.

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it?

As an artist, I would like whoever knows and enters my work to connect with the mystery and with emotions that take them to new territories. I could say that I would love for my paintings to be a door into the unknown.
Sincerely, while I am focused on taking a painting forward, and all that entails facing the creative act, it is very difficult to be thinking or predicting what will happen to the viewer when he is in front of it. For me, once I finish the work, the life that it has afterwards, as well as its interpretation or what it generates, does not belong to my control but to what the painting itself is capable of transmitting.

What events in your life have mobilised change in your practise/aesthetic? How has your art evolved? Do you experiment?

I remember two moments that influenced me in terms of my understanding of painting. One of them was to finish the Fine Arts degree and continue painting from my studio, with no other pretense than painting, without grades, records, or academic objectives. At this moment I started a new personal path in painting full of creative freedom. The other moment was to start practicing yoga, this made me change my notion of everything, of time, of rhythm, of speech and even of attitude and posture in front of the painting. From there there was a very important leap in my work.

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

From my experience, and how best I am able to be creative, is from tranquility and harmony. When I enter the studio in peace and in a good mood, my work always flows more and is of better quality.
The environment that I have right now in my studio is close to my ideal, surrounded by trees, with good light, without excessive cold or heat, in solitude and sometimes with background music, others in silence.
Another important aspect that I consider as a condition to generate a good work is to forget to compare yourself or to want to be like other artists, to focus on being the artist you want to be.

Something in the future you hope to explore?

I would love to continue researching in color and paint. Tackle work of a giant format and several meters long. But above all I would be fascinated if the act of painting and what happens there continue to be a surprise every day, to continue exploring into the unknown.

Tell us about the inspiration behind one of your works?

I have a painting that I really like and it is one of those works that as the months go by it gives me something different. It is a very simple canvas entitled “Bloom” (Bloom, 2021) in which the hands of the painting “The Arnolfini marriage” by Jan Van Eyck appear on one of my vegetal backgrounds. It is a work that draws directly from the original painting, that painting has always enchanted me and I consider the position of the crossing of hands of the characters very enigmatic. It has been a pleasure to be able to refer to him in my own work.