The abstract expressionism of painter Angel Matamoros

The abstract expressionism of painter Angel Matamoros

(Editor’s note: I worked with Angel “Fred” Matamoros at The News Tribune and The Olympian in Washington state, and he designed the Decafnation logo. I follow his work, both in graphic design and painting, and asked Tony Martin for a short review of Fred’s latest series of paintings.)


The first thing I should mention is a quote by British artist and Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry: “artists should never be compared to other artists in a review”, something like that.

But I can’t help comparing the latest paintings by Angel Matamoros to the late Richard Diebenkorn, West Coast’s most revered artist.

In his day job, Matamoros is an award-winning graphic designer who has worked for major newspapers and design houses. Away from work, he’s an abstract expressionist painter represented by galleries in Louisiana and Texas.

Although I have never seen his actual paintings — only his portfolio online — his excellent sense of design and colour comes through. I too am a former graphic designer turned painter, so I recognize where Matamoros is coming from.

My reference to Diebenkorn is to offer an opportunity to check him out online. He is a perfect example of what abstract expressionism is all about and it’s a North American phenomenon. Abstract Expressionism is a post-World War ll art movement in American painting, developed in New York in the 1940s.

It was the first specifically American movement to achieve international influence and put New York City at the centre of the western art world, a role formerly filled by Paris.

While Diebenkorn and Paul Klee, among others, have influenced his work, Matamoros is inspired by artists from his native Costa Rica, such as Rafael Angel Garcia and Francisco Zuniga.

The abstracts by Matamoros take snippets of text from poems that he loves, and combines them with heavy, textural colors and forms.

Metamoros has left print media to work as the principal graphic designer at Hazen and Sawyer in San Diego, a group of environmental engineers and scientists.

About his painting, he says: “I am drawn to surfaces, the power of colour, texture and energetic gestures. My work disassembles and re-arranges images inspired by places I have a special connection with, poems, books I’ve read as well as nature. While I give the paintings titles, it’s my hope that people will connect with the art in reflection of their own story.”

You may view his paintings at or check out Saatchi Gallery’s web site.

Tony Martin is the former Director/Curator of the Comox Valley Art Gallery. He currently lives and works in Nanaimo. You can see his own work here.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.