MTO

About the Artist

MTO is a graffiti artist with international roots. MTO’s photo-realistic graffiti follows an unmistakable style that makes him one of the most famous European graffiti artists with murals all over the world.

Artist Interview

When did you start doing graffiti?
It began in May 2008, over the course of a visit to Barcelona with my friend Arone. Even if our friendship is not related to graffiti, I will have to give him the credit for getting me started. He is the founder of the TWE crew (France).
Can you tell us the meaning behind the name MTO?
Mateo.

What is the idea behind the two works of the series?
As usually with my work, the idea goes with the context. In August 2012 two good friends of mine – Gwenaelle Vincianne-Vinouse and Fred LAROCHE, both part of “Atelier à Quatre” design agency – were doing a show-room exhibition about their nature-inspired design creations and prototypes. The exhibition was called “COSMORAMA”. For this occasion they offered me to be part of the exhibition and sponsored me to paint two murals in the city of Rennes (France) where the exhibition was taking place.

Rennes is situated in the French region “Bretagne“, which has a strong and long history related to the see, sailors, witches, legends, fairy tales etc. … So I’ve created a legend titled “The legend of Fred ILLE and Gwen VILLAINE”.

It is the story of an artist painting two giants who come to life with the urge to kill their creator – sort of my own version of “Frankenstein”. In one picture you can see that the giant has destroyed the wall. He saw me through the window, he is trying to grab and pull me inside the house. That’s the reason why I have sneaked outside, hiding behind the wall, waiting for the giant to turn his head to the other side. So he won’t see me running away, trying to escape.

The other situation is showing Gwen grabbing me at the top of the ladder, probably when the painting was just finished. She cut me into pieces and ate me. You can see bloody pieces lying in the grass before her. Those resemble leftover parts of my body.

The idea was to make the characters as overdrawn as possible – to work with the illusion of the three-dimensional. I wanted to create the effect of them standing right there in front of you. Those two characters are painted from photographs specifically staged for the locations. The two previously mentioned friends were the models. Taken from a scene in motion, what you see is a frozen moment. It only all makes sense with me being part of the bigger picture, present as one of the subjects of the story. That’s why the actual pieces are not the paintings alone, but the resulting photographs staged to reveal the whole story.

Also a few specific references to the “Bretagne” area are made within these images: Strange flies shaped like the “Ermine” logo but with wings are flying around the characters. Ermine is the symbol of the Ex-Bretagne royalty and now emblem for the region, as it is visible on their flag.

Where are the murals located?

The women is located on the external wall of Gwen & Fred’s Atelier. The man was sprayed on an empty house, about 500 meters further. Both buildings are right beside a supermarket named “GEANT” (meaning “Giant” in French). The county where Rennes(Bretagne) is located is named “Ille et Villaine”. It is named after the two rivers crossing in the city and this is where the family name of the two giants comes from.

“La Vilaine” (with only one “L”) means “the naughty girl” in French and if you read this interview, I guess you already know what “ILL” (without a “E”) means …. The Bretagne region is sharing a history with Britain. So by crossing languages, you obtain “Fred the wicked & Gwen the naughty”

Are the houses you painted on still standing?

In 2014 the city took down Fred to construct new buildings… Gwen is loosing its red vibrancy, but still exists. The two final photos, as well as the making-of video were presented in the exhibition.

All Artworks by MTO

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