Matthias Mross – when urban goes chick

Deliciously vibrant, stunningly precise and nonchalantly seducing – artworks by German artist Matthias Mross are the most brilliant transgression of street art, entering with serenity into the world of highbrow art.

In street art the subjects that attach Matthias Mross might seem as not entirely new – but how he does his works is more than fresh and thrilling. His catchy eye and an immense talent make his hyper-realistic works not only authentic but actually groundbreaking. Although he is still being invited to paint on walls, his smaller scale pieces are taking his talent to the next level.

Mross incarnates all that has been serving as inspiration in past few years – flashes of retro futurism, the odd aesthetics of the 1990s, suburban freedom, seducing power of youth and the game of contrast - when fake meets luxurious, countryside confronts city and artistry faces baloney.

Youngsters, wearing their casual sport brand sweatpants, riding horses somewhere on the outskirts of a big city, are the heroes of a cycle entitled Urban Cowboys, where Mross takes a significant step forward, a liminal move that transgresses his art into something entirely new.

A teenage boy, wearing a blue adidas tracksuit leads a white horse forward, in the background we can see a floral tapestry, below which it is sprayed in bright red Vagabond, that is also a title of this large-scale painting. It is a story full of subtle games and winks to the audience. Stinking juxtapositions make this piece a stage of divergence: gracious animal caught by a simple string, full streetwear and bourgeois tapestry (recalling a far echo of William Morris’s “Arts and Crafts” movement), neat background that clashes with a sloppy sprayed writing; youngsters and an oldfashioned interior, an impression of indoor versus titled vagabond. We could go on and on. Mross plays with contrasts also when painting – the depicted horse is nearly hyper-realistic, but we can see the white paint dropping off the horse’s neck. It is a direct proof that the artist takes control over his work, he is admitting having been enjoying a game with the spray-paint street art and neat precision, reality and fiction. He is therefore emphasising his signature as an artist who combines the two worlds.

In Red Hat a young boy wearing a red headpiece, blue sport suit and rubber wellingtons rides a dark horse in the stunning surrounding of floral tapestry. He looks somewhere left, probably starring at the sun, as his face is lighted, and eyes are closing in a grimace. The boy looks to be emerging from a flowery wall, especially that Mross decided to leave part of the horse nearly transparent, with big flowers that translucent with audacity.

Not only the choice of themes is original in Matthias Mross’s art. He explores textures, forms and shapes. His Horse Carriages (I and II) are indeed painted on the wooden panels, shaped in the form of titled carriages. Teasing site-specific habits is nearly outrageously embraced with smart form of hyperrealism, that is not that serious, recalling scenography as the most intense experience of simulacrum.

Urban cowboys are not only almost surreal beings that to our wonder do appear in the real landscape. Indeed the inspiration for the cycle comes from real life – from the outskirts of Dublin, where these sort of scenes have been taking place. Those strange occurrences seem to be the scenes from different part of the globe, where either a horse stands for a more convenient form of locomotion, or mainly where the tradition assumes certain rituals of initiation and a particular form of sometimes toxic masculinity. Mross seems to be challenging those patterns by juxtaposing figures of the proud adolescent boys with floral tapestry.

This is art full of freshness, nonconformism, approachable, pleasant, elaborative and outstandingly promising. Matthias Mross is an artist holding in his hands an immense potential and vast spectrum of technical skills that are inevitably pushing him towards eloquent, complex and spectacular art.


Alicja REKSC, PhD