There are a few street artists that are synonymous with particular cities, at least for me. Whether because its their hometown or because it’s the city that they painted in the most, or the one where they built their reputation and received the most exposure from.
Think New York City, think Cope2.
Think London, think Banksy.
Think Paris, think C215.
Think Berlin? Well, there could be a few , but for me it has been MTO.
I first discovered MTO’s work while taking a tour in the depths of winter with the good people at Alternative Berlin a few years ago I can’t remember if it was the turntables or Jack Nicholson piece on Oranienstr., but the greyscale portraits with trademark red outlines (will come back to this later) really stuck in my mind.
Since moving to Berlin in 2006 and starting to paint on the streets in 2008, MTO aka Mateo has become one most respected artists on the scene with his portraits of popular culture icons, international and local celebrities in the street art world (‘Alias’ and ‘Just’…).
In a recent interview with streeartbln.com he cited the “the long and hard winters, the fast and aggressive gentrification, too many hipsters, more street artists than art in the streets” among some of the reasons behind his departure.
And while his relationship with the city may have deteriorated due to factors outwith his control, he says “never say never” when asked about a possible return to the city. An end of an era, and a poignant one too!
So with one last look back, I’ve collated a few of my favourite MTO pieces from his time in Berlin (there’s not enough space for all of them…).
MTO – Turntables
MTO – Jack Nicholson
MTO – Jim Carrey
MTO – Yaam for Street Art Meeting
MTO – Just
MTO – Angelina Jolie
MTO – Spike Lee
MTO – Angele Merkel
MTO – Alias
MTO’s traveled to Miami since leaving – and painted what would appear to be his first large scale piece since announcing his departure. Interestingly he has ditched the colour red in favour of yellow for this. Could this be a sign of things to come? Does the colour red represent his time in Berlin? It will be interesting to see what comes next…
UKBImages from allcitystreetart.com, streetartbln.com, MTO & cultureclimax.com