Assumpció Mateu was born near Girona in 1952. Her proximity to nature and her relationship with her grandfather was decisive in her discovery, internalisation and participation with this environment, which marked her artistic outlook.
Since she was a child she had the need to express herself through art, experimenting with any tool or medium she could find. In this way, she turned her energy towards this creative end.
Before starting university she had the opportunity to work in the workshops of important artists such as Sainz de la Maza and Ramon Sanvicens where she learned the intricacies of figurative and expressionist art.
When she finished school she began a degree in Fine Arts at the Escola Superior de Belles Arts Sant Jordi in Barcelona, while studying Graphic Design at Escola Elisava.
She learned from great teachers who influenced her ways of doing, thinking and creating, such as Jordi and Iago Pericot at Elisava, and Jaume Muxart, José Milicua, Rafael Santos Torroella at Bellas Artes.
This university period was marked by the last years of the dictatorship. Assumpció, as a young, committed and rebellious artist, demonstrated artistically against a state that restricted freedom and culture through her painting and independent theatre behind closed doors.
During this period she spent a summer at the home of a French painter, Mr Chesnais, in a small mountain village in Switzerland, Rougemont. There she could breathe culture and freedom of thought and learn new techniques such as collage and monotype.
In 1975, the same year as the dissolution of the dictatorship, Assumpció completed her studies.
When she finished university he completed his first series “Presons Íntimes”, committed works marked by the dictatorship. Nevertheless, in Barcelona, no gallery owner wanted to show them.
For this reason, Assumpció went to Milan, the design capital of the time, where she found a gallery willing to show her first solo exhibition.
In addition to the success she had, she also met great figures of the Italian intellectual movement such as the filmmaker P.P. Passolini, and the art critic and historian Paolo Perrone, among others, who wrote a great article about her in a special issue of the magazine Cultura e Costume dedicated to the Primati del Futurismo “Vitalità della nuova generazione spagnola” (pages 34-37).
In 1979 she began to combine her career as an artist with teaching at the Faculty of Fine Arts Sant Jordi of the UB, working as a painting teacher during the day and devoting herself to her art at night.
The ’80s were marked by the completion of her PhD thesis, as well as her great artistic growth.
In 1984 she received a research grant in Plastic Arts from the Generalitat de Catalunya to discover and understand the origins of Brancusi and Matisse, travelling to Romania and Paris.
This work concluded with the award of the degree of PhD in Fine Arts Cum laude, from the Central University of Barcelona, with the thesis “Perception: Colour and Thought”.
At the same time, her artistic career began to accelerate both nationally and internationally. She began to collaborate with one of the leading gallerists in the art world, Lanfranco Bombelli (Galeria Cadaqués), participating in international fairs and meeting and working with great personalities of the art world, such as Rafael Canogar among others.
She also exhibited at ArtFair Montreal in 1985, where she met Jean-Paul Riopelle through the Galerie Roy-Duluth where she had a solo exhibition in 1986.
In 1986 she exhibited at the Castell de Benadorments together with Antoni Tàpies and Joan Brossa, participated in the 43ème and 44ème Salon des realités Nouvelles at the Grand Palais in Paris, until 1988 when she was chosen to participate in the Triangle Workshop in New York, a workshop directed by Anthony Caro with artists from all over the world. That same year M. Mercè Roca wrote the book “La Veu del Foc” (The Voice of Fire) inspired by the person and the artist.
The 1990s were marked by Assumpció’s decision to devote herself exclusively to artistic creation, thus abandoning her career as a teacher at the Faculty of Fine Arts.
In 1990 she travelled to Lebanon for the first time, discovering the other side of the Mediterranean, where Mediterranean culture begins. This trip, and the subsequent ones she made to the country, made her reflect on and become passionate about it. Her Mediterranean series, which already had great critical and public acclaim, evolved greatly with this new experience.
“The Mediterranean is our origin. When I travelled to the eastern Mediterranean I realised that there was no awareness that we were part of a whole. I started to become interested in the different scripts, from the most ancient, the pictograms, the cuneiform, the Phoenician… the symbols and I felt the need to introduce them into my works as something natural and try to unite these two sides of the sea, the eastern and the western.
I exhibited these works in solo exhibitions in Beirut, Barcelona, Paris… with great success. I worked with the four elements (earth/air/water and fire) related to the landscape and mixed them with scriptures and symbols.
It was a need to understand my origins”.
During this period she was selected for the National Catalogue of Iberian Contemporary Art 2000 (a reference publication in that period), she participated again in the Salon des Realités Nouvelles in Paris and took part in the Salon Comparaisons in Paris.
The new millennium began with a lot of activity, exhibitions around the world and participation in international fairs, as well as projects for large institutions.
The year 2004 marked a before and after in her life. The conjunction of a big fire, as well as a very important personal loss, led her to create one of her most recognised and intense series, “The Burnt Forest” about death, silence and loss.
This series was worked on from different perspectives using very diverse media, from painting and photocollage to sculpture, the creation of installations and visual poetry.
Mateu’s “El Bosque Quemado” has been exhibited in important foundations, galleries and museums such as the Würth Museum in La Rioja, with a large solo exhibition, and La Fundació Vilacasas, who acquired one of his most impressive works, currently on display in the permanent collection of the Can Framis Museum in Barcelona.
During this period several books were written on the work of A. Mateu:
- In 2005 a monographic book was published, “A. Mateu: La mirada de l’espai interior”, written by Glòria Bosch, which was presented at the Fundació Vila Casas, at the Auditori del MACBA and at the Centre Cultural “La Llacuna” in Andorra.
- 2009 the catalogue “Presons íntimes” Fundació VilaCasas, written by Antonio Salcedo Miliani and Glòria Bosch, is published as a result of the solo exhibition at Espai Volart.
- 2010 the book “La mirada poètica” Fundació Atrium Artis is published, written by Carles Marti and Glòria Bosch.
- Book-catalogue of an institutional exhibition in Beirut “De lumière et de sang”, (l’Espagne et le Liban, histoires partagées) at the Fondation Audi, where some works from the Burnt Forest series were published.
In 2011 and due to the repercussion obtained by the “The Burnt Forest” series, the Würth-la Rioja Museum held a solo exhibition dedicated to Assumpció Mateu and her work, curated by Kosme de Barañano.
A new catalogue “El Bosque Quemado” (The Burnt Forest) written by Kosme de Barañano and Eduard Carbonell was published, where apart from painting, installations, visual poems and more recent works in different languages on this theme are exhibited.
In 2013 he participated in the Symposium “La luz como soporte: el fuego bajo las cenizas” (The light as a support: the fire under the ashes) in the Faculty of Fine Arts of Altea. Miguel Hernández University, together with Renato Bocchi, Laura Cortés, José Sánchez Segovia, Eudald Camps, Eva C. Mesas, Kosme de Barañano, Pilar Escanero…
This same year she was invited to participate in the Gorg Fest Festival-Simpòsium, Homage to Brancusi, in Targu Jiu, (Romania) where she made a sculpture that is in the Museum of the city, with international artists.
In 2015 she was chosen to create a permanent sculptural work at La Vinya dels Artistes de Mas Blanch i Jové (Pobla de Cèrvoles, Lleida), “Emmarcant el somni: diàleg”, together with artists such as J.Guinovart, Joan Brossa, Susana Solano, Carles Santos, Evru, Frederic Amat and Carlos Pazos among others.
In 2016, 2017 and 2018 she was invited on several occasions to China to participate in symposiums, show her work and collaborate in architecture and design projects in Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai etc.
Every year she has participated in the Pepe Sales Festival in Girona, paying homage to important and controversial figures such as Jean Genet, Elena Garro, Roberto Bolaño, Charles Bukowski among others.
She has also participated in the International Land Art Festival in Art i Gavarres.
In 2018 she was selected for the Premi d’escultura de la Fundació VilaCasas.
In 2019 she has three solo exhibitions in different spaces such as the Fundació Marguerida de Montferrato in Balaguer, “Poiesis”, in L’espai de cultura contemporania Les Bernardes in Salt “La natura com a metàfora” and a retrospective exhibition at the Fundació Valvi “Traces de passió” in Girona.