MTO – Street Art Labor Intensity

26 September 2015

His mother calls him Mateo but most of the world knows the mysterious street artist whose extraordinary work you see here as MTO.   French born but Berlin based, MTO’s work is characterized by incredibly detailed renditions of über cool actors and musicians with a dash of red as his signature or around his work as a signifier of its boundaries (we are guessing to allow other artists to work around him).

A visit to the Spanish city of Barcelona was the kick-start for MTO’s work on the streets.  There, the vibrancy of the city’s exterior culture inspired him to create. Yet his work, although labeled street art, goes way beyond graffiti.

Although his work is often extremely large – up to two meters high and wide (and often much, much larger) it usually only takes him around five hours to create one of his smaller works. The larger ones can take up to a week but even that amount of time seems small when the results are viewed. One can only then imagine the mental preparation that goes in to this meticulous work.

MTO recently returned to his native France where he completed the large piece above. Fortunately someone was around with a film camera to capture the process – and this really gives you an idea of the work that goes in to a single piece of work. This is labor intensity both in terms of the work put in and the creative process involved.

Image Credit Flickr User MTO
What makes MTO’s work stand out for me? Firstly there is the photo-realistic nature of his work.  Although it is not always associated with street art his choice of subject demands this detail – and it certainly makes his work spring in to life. Then there are the subjects themselves - often film and pop and rock stars of the seventies and eighties – the movies and music I grew up with.

Image Credit Flickr User -Lucky Cat-
I also admire the sense of fun that goes in to their creation. Often these are what are (rather wearily these days) referred to as modern icons but the moments that are captured were often unforgettable even before they were made in to street art. MTO certainly knows his cultural handles and he knows what he likes too.

His art also interacts with the environment around it – with his recent serious of Berlin street artists almost jumping off the walls, hands reaching in to windows and pulling back the brick frontage to reveal their own world.

Image Credit Flickr User Urban Artefacte
Image Credit Flickr User -lucky cat-
Image Credit Flickr User Urban ARTefakte
Image Credit Flickr User MTO
Image Credit Flickr User Urban ARTefakte
Image Credit Flickr User -lucky cat-
Image Credit Flickr User Etza
Image Credit Flickr User -lucky cat-
First Image Credit Flickr User bsdphoto

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