French artist Mateo Humano uses a unique canvas for his haunting portraits of women. Inspired by the traditions of ancient cultures and influenced by his background as a street artist, Humano places his evocative portraits on Persian carpets. In doing so, he allows the traditional patterns to become part of the features of the women. The effect is incredible.
Recently, after his solo exhibition at the Sharjah Art Museum in the United Arab Emirates, he published a video that gives a glimpse into his creative process and the philosophy behind this work.
“Throughout the Orient, the ornamental design and symbolism of a rug's origins date back to the earliest past,” Humano shares. “Certain pieces are obviously loaded with a cleverly formulated philosophical message as well as totemic, tribal, or spiritual symbols.
“By adding a human element, following the exact rules of symmetry present in a carpet and in a face, these works touch our deep being, our universal consciousness, they question our cultural identity currently cannibalized by standardization and mass culture.”
Humano's use of female faces is purposeful. As the artist points out, women were traditionally involved in the process of creating Persian rugs. From spinning and dying the wool to creating designs and weaving, their contributions are a fundamental part of the art form. So, it only seemed right that this was honored at Humano's exhibition. To pay homage to these women, a carpet with two female weavers was the show's centerpiece.
Several other carpets with individual portraits flank the central piece. By painting portraits on such revered pieces of tradition, Humano hopes to spotlight the stories and contributions of these women. And in doing so, he allows the public to gain a deeper appreciation for the role women play in these traditional arts.