Mateo Gutiérrez is a Brooklyn NY based contemporary artist working in themes relating to empire, colonialism, consumption, identity, violence and media. He is a foreign born national who lived in several countries before moving to the United States at the age of sixteen. He earned his BA in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley, and his MFA in painting from the University of Texas at Austin.

ARTIST STATEMENT

I am focused on the traumatic effects resulting from the violence of empire and specifically how that is expressed through bodily gestures. I look at how arms, legs, torsos, hand gestures and facial expressions are similarly positioned, all of these shapes and forms expressing the emotional truth of the contemporary human condition. That's what I care about: emotional trauma, the wounds, the deep, subconscious pains of the human condition. I am seeking the underlying brutality and violence that afflict the participants in modern day extreme capitalism and globalism in particular. I draw my images from a wide variety of online news sources. I juxtapose these images so that we may see what lies behind them, forcing contradiction and thereby bringing to bear the underlying and universal violence of oppression, that which feeds the very machine of empire and perhaps even the very notion of civilization itself. 

THE MATERIALS I USE

As a support I use tear-away stabilizer which traditionally functions as a backing for embroidery. I am bringing the back to the front, showing that which supports, that which lies behind. The tear-away stabilizer functions as a symbol of the lives and people directly affected by the "cost" of empire, lives themselves "discarded", "torn-away" and marginalized. I am seeking the reality behind the narrative. I sew the tear-away stabilizer together in pieces, showing those threads on the front instead of hiding them on the back; I expose the thread as symbolic sutures of trauma, wounds that have failed to heal and are, as such, passed along generation to generation. I view the tear-away stabilizer as the "body" of my work, the physical, human body, the skin.

I use embroidery thread because I have watched my mother, who makes her living sewing, sew my entire life, making our things and fixing people's clothes. Sewing has been a big part of my family since my earliest memories and has a long Latino tradition in particular that as a Latino male, who was culturally trained to be machismo, flies in the face of this predisposed caricature of masculinity. I also use embroidery thread because, first, it signifies the psychological frailty of the human condition, that we are emotional creatures first and foremost and as such are deeply traumatized by the often harsh and absurd world that we create around us. Second, embroidery thread signifies the wounds that are passed through the ages from one generation to the next, binding us to often traumatic conditions that may not even be our own, threads of both pain and joy that come to define us, our ways of doing things, how we think, how we feel, how we see the world, how we see each other, and ultimately how we come to both uncover and define ourselves.

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