The practice of the German contemporary artist Matthias Mross immortalizes the vibrancy of urban life. Whether working on large-scale frescoes or on canvas, he focuses on the downside of urban habitats, capturing moments of life, faces, slums, and poverty. His protagonists range from city workers, the homeless, food service operators and street vendors to animals, most often cocks and chickens as recurring motifs.
The artist's latest body of work is currently on view at GCA Gallery. Titled Urban Cowboys, the exhibition examines the reality of the cowboy kids of Dublin, where an extraordinary equestrian culture has evolved spontaneously in the past decades.
Born in Freising, Germany in 1986, Matthias Mross was drawn to art from an early age, constantly reproducing the 90s Germany through children's eyes. During his teenage years, he discovered the world of graffiti. In the subsequent years, he began combining pencils, markers, paint and spray cans, refining his technique to create complex paintings. In 2010, he co-founded a collective Haus 75 with Lion Fleischmann and Sebastian Wandl, referring to the house on Geyerspergerstrasse 75 that was the heart of their creation process.
Combining different methods, Mross creates surreal worlds characterized by rich and vibrant colors. Using a distinct realistic painting technique and a combination of mixed media, he deals with social imbalance, depicting chickens, slum settlements, garbage, rubble, homeless people and other protagonists of city life, often inspired by his many travels around the world.
In Dublin - in parks and back gardens, on greens and waste ground - the teenage children of mostly unemployed families keep their ponies. These urban cowboys in tracksuits and Nikes, long identified with a Wild-West image of the city's suburbia, ride their horses bareback in the streets and parking lots of their neighborhood. Once a month, the horses are shown off and sold at the infamous Smithfield Horse Fair.
Many of these young riders belong to the Irish gipsy community, who have brought with them the time old tradition of horse ownership to the city life. For this community, horse riding and trading is a transition to adulthood.
To capture this unique horse culture, Mross combined a range of materials, from spray cans and acrylic paint to markers, brushes, spatulas, collages, and iron foil. Combining elaborate layers of paint on repeating floral motifs or particular fabrics, the artist created works of truly remarkable detail.
With this body of work, Mross managed to perfectly capture the spirit of his protagonists and their surviving life on the street.
The exhibition Urban Cowboys will be on view at GCA Gallery in Paris until November 21st, 2020.
Featured images: Installation views of Urban Cowboys by Matthias Mross at GCA Gallery. All images courtesy of GCA Gallery.