Dolmen VI, 1973
Ángel Mateos Bernal was born in 1931 in Villavieja de Yeltes, Salamanca, into a family of stonemasons-builders, a profession in which he worked from an early age and from which he obtained knowledge of his identifying material: concrete. He began his first contacts with the art schools of Seville and Madrid, but the academic teaching disappointed the young Mateos and he soon returned home to continue his research outside of any academic sphere.
At the beginning of the 60s he began to participate in national sculpture competitions, in which he was awarded several times and where his artistic research was rewarded. In these years his sculpture is detaching rapidly and progressively from figuration to enter abstraction.
The decade of the 70s will be marked by a series of sculptures called Dolmens and that Mateos will come to realize in large format such as the Dolmen to Liberty that he donates to his native Villavieja, the Dolmen VI installed in Lumbrales , Salamanca, and the one that will be a Accolade to his career: The Age of Concrete that rises, with 12 m. high, on the A-7 motorway (Km, 37 Barcelona - Tarragona) after being awarded in the International Competition of Mediterranean Motorways.
In these years of incessant and methodical activity from his workshop in Vitigudino, Ángel Mateos articulates his artistic ideology: The Logic of Forms. At the same time that he defines his discourse, the artist decides on a voluntary distancing from the artistic circles of power in Madrid - "the area in which the artist moves constitutes an intrinsic reason for the appreciation of his art" -.
In 1979 the Ministry of Culture granted him a National Plastic Arts Research Grant, a recognition of his career and contribution to sculpture.
His relationship with constructivist artists throughout these years takes shape in various collectives in Barcelona, Madrid or Salamanca, in which he exhibits together with Camín, Feliciano Hernández, Soledad Sevilla, Eusebio Sempere or Cruz Novillo, among others.
The decade of the 80 corresponds to the moment of full creative maturity of Ángel Mateos; his work has been refined until reaching a constructivism of primary structures with a marked architectural and monumental character, features that distinguish his work.
In 1982 he exhibited in Madrid his series called Displacements, which gave rise two years later, in September 1984, to the exhibition Floating Sculptures on the Tormes - sculptures that, as of this year 2009, are located in Morille -. After this unique exhibition on the river Tormes, Mateos will only participate in the VIII Biennial of Zamora, selected by Castilla y León, in which the Menhires sculptural group with which he participates, is located in the city.
The 90s represent in Ángel Mateos' artistic career the search for a final project that summarizes and expresses his dedication and tribute to his material, concrete. Thus, in 1994, at the entrance of his native Villavieja, he made one of his great and most beloved works: Obelisco, which stands 25 meters high in the middle of the holm oak landscape of the charro field of Salamanca. A few years later, in 1999, in commemoration of the IV Centenary of the City of Valladolid, its most important sculpture was erected - both in terms of dimensions and technical complexity: 22 meters high with a 15-meter knot. Of flight.
But it will be in 2002 in Doñinos de Salamanca when what will be his last major project, the Museo del Hormigón, culminates. This museum, a true "time capsule to travel to the future loaded with a life dedicated to sculpture" will be the last creation of Ángel Mateos, and where all his work can be found. From then on, Mateos, an artist cursed by conviction - outside of fashions and markets - ended his artistic career.
Already in his retirement, the Junta de Castilla y León recognizes his professional career and his contribution to art for "an independent work, with great personality and expressive force", awarding him the Castilla y León Prize for the Arts 2008.
Text: Ángel Manuel Mateos