Artist of the Month: Patricia Mato-Mora

April’s Artist of the Month is sculptor and writer Patricia Mato-Mora. Patricia works internationally and is based in London. She graduated with a Masters from the Royal College of Art in 2016, and a Royal Institute of British Architects Part 1 at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in 2012. She is an affiliate member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a Member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.

Patricia’s sculptural works depart from a subjective observation of a given space. Through them, the artist communicates a subjective, often synesthetic, reading of the space in question.

Patricia colonizes spaces organically through a physical shaping of a chosen materiality. Her resulting sculptures are monumental in scale, challenging her physically and precipitating a bodily engagement between her body and the space she is working in. They are reminiscent of organic growth patterns. Patricia argues that this has to do with the inherent animality of her relationship to matter. Her personal narrative is thus left in the space for others to unravel in the form of a sculpture; and often carries a sense of surprise or wonder, particularly in the eyes of the onlooker. This body of work began with the use of raw clay, and has since evolved to incorporate terracotta; deeply inspired by the Mediterranean light and the colours it reveals.

We sat down with Patricia to talk about her impressive work and to find out more about her inspirations. Read the full interview below. Patricia has also taken over our Instagram from 17th – 25th April to showcase her work and process. Follow us on @Artiqgram to see her posts.

Take us through the lifespan of creating a work of art.
It is most definitely not a linear process, and I am not even sure if my current artworks are finished pieces or prompts for future projects. Some of the projects I am working on now might have been brewing in my mind for years. In short, I find it almost impossible to describe the creation of an artwork in a chronological way. Art happens somehow when ideas unlikely to exist together are brewing together in the same pot, and my art at least, is never finished.

How has your work developed over time?
I don’t see my art evolving in a linear progression, but rather as a series of themes that matter to me. My art evolves in as much I am able to find new materials to express ideas connected to each of these themes; and to establish new relationships between themes. I am reluctant to put the “themes” into words, because for the most part I conceive them as non-verbal. I am also not sure whether I keep adding new themes to my repertoire, or whether I am working on very few “primordial” topics that keep recurring and finding new means of expression. I still have to find that out, and I might find out when I’m 80, so I can never be sure.

What artists have influenced your practice?
On the one hand, there are artists who have influenced my practice because I have had the privilege of working alongside them. Ideas, ways of working, and above all, work ethics, have percolated through my own work – I would say this is almost inevitable, and I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity. The didactic role of artists who employ younger artists cannot be overlooked.

On the other hand, there are artists whom I have never met, whose work has shaped my own. The list is enormous; and it comprises practitioners from a wide variety of artistic fields. The works of Ricardo Bofill have captured my imagination for a long time; as have the writings of Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino. Michelangelo, of course, has beguiled me since I was a little girl.

Finally, there are two artists that have a special significance for me, perhaps due to a series of shared sensibilities connected to the Mediterranean Basin. They are Miquel Barceló, whose work moves me to tears; and Joan Miró. I have been lucky enough to be an artist in residence at Miró’s own art studio for the last 6 months. He has, of course, influenced my work in more ways than I can imagine or detect, but what I find most fascinating is when I am looking at his work and realise that he was aware of a certain sight, smell, or tactile feeling that I have known all my life. Georges Perec called this anticipatory plagiarism. Finding these moments in pretty much any artist’s work is what makes my heart miss a beat.

Tell us about your dream project.
I thought such a thing as dream projects existed, and then I got what you might think of as a “dream project”, which was basically one of the most generous art awards granted in my hometown, the Pilar Juncosa and Sotheby’s Biennial Award. In a way it was a dream project, and working on it was “like a dream”, but since then I would say that my dream project is the one I am working on right now.

In addition to this, I think ARTIQ, in a way, is like a dream come true for me. My academic background is in architecture; and therefore architecture and space are what I am truly fascinated about. The idea behind ARTIQ; that spaces can be inhabited in a more rewarding way thanks to the artwork that exists in them, is absolutely amazing in my opinion. I would like to become more involved, and maybe my next “dream project is when I get a commission through ARTIQ, one that enables clients to work alongside me to change their space of choice through art.

What’s the last exhibition you saw that made an impact on you?
I have seen a few good shows lately, but I’d say the absolute master of material is Tony Cragg, whose latest works were shown at Lisson Gallery at the end of last year (2016). I kept going back for more. One of my favourite things to do when I go to sculpture exhibitions is to unravel the manufacturing process in my mind. Of course, I am for the most part guessing what the process would have been. At Cragg’s show, my mind was really pushed, and it became challenging to understand how the different materials had been worked. Besides, Cragg masters so many different materials with such ease – that in itself is commendable.

What is the one thing you cannot live without?
Making, drawing and writing – this triad truly defines who I am and how I relate to the world. I struggle to take weekends off and away from the studio, because, in some way, I relate to the outside world in a more fulfilling way when I do it through material.

What art do you, or would you, collect?
I don’t collect any art in the fine art sense. I do collect small mementos from my life – in fact my favourite presents are those that have meant something in relation to the narrative of my life, and the life of whoever is making me a present. Collecting is becoming increasingly difficult, because I travel a lot and move around a lot! I did grow up among my grandfather’s art collection, he had an impressive collection of Southern European Impressionist paintings that I think has shaped my sensibility for light and colour; and perhaps my dread of empty walls!

What is the most memorable piece of art you have produced?
The piece that most people have responded most positively to, and that I therefore consider to be most memorable, is The Fine Line Between (Symbiosis and Parasitism). I made this piece during my residency at the European Ceramic Work Centre, a leading institution for sculpture production. It is a wink to the twist-fluted solomonic column found in European architecture since Late Antiquity. The sculpture wraps around the reinforced concrete shaft of one of the columns in an old leather factory, in Oisterwijk (Netherlands). The interaction between the column and the sculpture is duplicitous – at times it can seem symbiotic, drawing life from the architecture while bringing a touch of musicality to the space; while it may also appear to be choking its prey like a snake.

How does material/medium inform your practice?
When I was in architecture school, one of my tutors said that the “material” architects should master is “space”; which of course is not a material but its absence, as it were. Understood in this way, I would say that the material that informs my practice most of the time is space. At the moment I am thinking a lot about urban space, the space of the city. Although I have been working with ceramic most recently, I am not married to it. I have had a long affair with clay / ceramics because it enables me to work in space in a very direct way; but I imagine this will change at some point.

Has any place or environment affected your work?
My practice is based about the idea of a place. Most of the time, my sculptures depart from a subjective observation of a given space. Through them, I communicate a subjective, often synesthetic, reading of the space in question. So, yes, most of my artworks are directly affected by the environment they are designed to exist in.

Beyond this, I would say the environment that has most affected my work is that of the Mediterranean basin. My work is very much influenced by my tactile memories of this environment; such as the sea salt on my skin, the sand under my feet, and large expanses of dry red earth.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love reading, and I really like visiting galleries. I am reading way too many books at the same time; I can see Stoner by John Williams, just across the table, which I am about to finish. Love in the Time of Cholera must have been one of the books I’ve enjoyed the most lately. I love travelling, and I try to do as much of that as possible.

What advice would you give a younger you?
The more time passes, the less sure I am about becoming wiser. Maybe the younger me should come to give me some advice. She would probably be braver and have less preconceptions about what being an artist should entail. Ridding myself of preconceptions is akin to weeding the lawn; I do it all the time.