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August 1, 2014

Quotes from Artist Guido Mattei on Life and Art

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Written by: Nydia O
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Guido Mattei


Humbleness and unpretentious speech is the true art form Guido Mattei has mastered.  During a recent lecture he gave at the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum, Mattei shared more than his sculpting skills, for his take on life proved to be the most interesting.


After living in Mexico managing fish farms, Guy Mattei and his wife Eileen relocated to the Valley a few years ago. For most of his life Mattei strictly welded utilitarian artifacts, and soon found himself making the same for local maquiladoras. His Italian artistic roots clamored for his attention, and Mattei soon surrendered to putting his ability as a welder into creating three-dimensional works of art. Discovering an Italian ancestor whose bronze sculptures were coveted by the rich and famous decades ago was also an inspiration, but not to make money but to create. “I did not get into art as a business, but for the challenge of making metal look a certain way,” he said adding that it was only recently that he started working with wood.  Mattei said that he never has a preconceived design, but lets the ideas flow during the process.



DSCN3154During his lecture, Mattei described different ways of handling chisels. There are over a million different ones he said, but he likes to make his own. He does not believe he has mastered the use of any of them, but said that the only way to make tools do what you want them to do is to use them frequently. He also noted that no amount of lectures will help create anything, for only doing the work will produce something. He recommends to do things without expecting them to be perfect.

Mattei’s sculptures are currently on exhibit at the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum. It is his first solo exhibition, and I highly recommend everyone to go see it. For Mattei, seeing all his work merged in one place prompted him to confront his entire life, and noted he will have to do a lot of thinking and evaluating once  the exhibit is down. There are a couple of massive sculptures he carved out of trees that succumbed to hurricane Dolly. One of the audience members asked about the amount of hours he invested in creating each of them. “I don’t know. How long does one spend looking at our navel?” he chuckled. But eventually we found out he estimates spending approximately one thousand hours working on these amazing pair of sculptures.

I truly enjoyed his presentation, and I am sharing some of the quotes I picked up during the lecture.

Quotes by artist Guido Mattei


1-     “When you consider there are seven billion people living on earth, it is stupid to think that one can be the best.”

2-     “I dropped out of the modern world a while ago.”

3-     “My favorite wood to work with is free wood.”

4-     “Life is short, and there are so many things that can be done.”

5-     “When art is used to make a living, it tends to get repetitive with multiple variations of the same work. That is not the artist that I want to be.”

6-     “When cutting wood, trust the old adage of measure twice and cut once.”

7-     “You can’t make what it’s not there.”

8-     “Create things that mean something to you, and not because they are popular.”

9-     “With the use of computer generated images it is easy to lose the humanity of it all.”

10-   “When carving a sculpture from the trunk of a tree, it is important to discover what the tree wants to be.”

11-   “Sharpness can be difficult.”  Guy Mattei's presentation


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About the Author

Nydia O
La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. I write about the food, the culture, the good times and the bad. I write about the people who make El Valle festive and laid back at the same time. Contributions and comments are always welcome .


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