Meet the artist who is turning everything we know about portraiture on its head

Matteo Charles can complete a painting faster than it takes his subjects to prepare for a session.

By Natasha Lee 15/05/2018

Some portraits can take several days to complete. Some even months.

But for Matteo Charles the typical portrait will take him less than 15 minutes.

Charles is one of the most highly-sought after live painters working in the world today. His list of subjects is as varied and eclectic as his style, including Jamie Foxx, Josh Gad and Oprah Winfrey.

Robb Report sat down with the incredible visionary force in an attempt to get an insight into his creativity.

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When did you realise you had a gift for painting?

I have been passionate about art in general for as long as I can remember. Art has always been somewhat of a saviour for me, especially at a young age. I would sit for hours on end just painting, sketching, animating, anything really. It was always a place I felt at ease.

You have had several health struggles – how much of that hardship do you think has contributed to the artist you are today?

Everything that I am and represent today all derives from pain. Throughout my time in-and-out of hospital, frustration, anger, depression were all a daily occurrence. There were times when I didn’t want to go on, and I wanted to give up on life. Once again art found its way into my life becoming my saviour, allowing me to channel all of my pain into art.

Who has been your favourite subject to paint so far?

*In 2015 I had the opportunity to perform in Hong Kong at the celebration of Bruce Lee’s 75th anniversary painting a portrait of Bruce live in front of 250 V.I.P guests including his wife and daughter. That was a special moment for me as I’m also a martial arts practitioner and I grew up watching his movies.
It was quite a surreal moment to sit at the same table as Bruce’s wife and daughter honouring him through my platform.*

Who would you LOVE to paint?

Some icons on my personal list include Ellen DeGeneres, Mark Wahlberg, Sylvester Stallone and Elon Musk.

When you are a doing a live painting what is going through your mind?

*Absolutely nothing. It’s the once place I can just be in the moment and allow myself to be free.

I was told by a mentor that when I perform my eyes glaze over and I zone out and perform as though nothing else around me exists. That made sense to me as often I can’t actually remember a performance forcing me to relive each performance through social media and photos.*

Do you envision how a live painting will look before jumping into it? Or do you just go with the flow?

Although my live pieces take about 10 minutes to perform, there’s a lot of back end practice in the studio that allows that performance to come to life on stage. With that, as much as I put the work in the studio, once I hit the stage the piece always turns out different to how I’ve practiced.

To see more of Matteo’s art visit his website


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