Mathieu Connery, aka 500M, has honed his creative dexterity in various neighborhoods across Montreal for seven years, decorating the streets with his signature abstract, minimalist style which can be described as a culmination of naive art, geometric, symbolist and surrealist painting influences. His work reflects a harmonious cohesion of the prominent movements he honors, creating an unorthodox and visually captivating approach to street art. Connery’s recent, grand scale endeavor was adorning the sidewalks of Saint-Laurent Boulevard with 10 abstract, geometric murals from May to the middle of July for the second edition of the MURAL festival in Montreal. His pieces, which were composed of an assortment of shapes, lines, and the illusion of appearing three dimensional, enable a unique interaction with spectators and compliments the landscape in a vibrant unison, perpetuated by a masterful manipulation of perspective.
In September, Mathieu and fellow street artist Alejandro Figueroa collaborated with Vitaminwater Canada for its latest campaign called “Brilliantworks”. The Coca-Cola-owned brand aims to inspire people by changing the way they view everyday life in unconventional, brilliant ways. In order to accomplish their objective, the brand is teaming up with a collection of artists over the course of the next few months.
When discussing the street art scene in Montreal, one cannot leave 500M out of the conversation.
FW: What was your inspiration, perhaps who were your artistic influences, in regards to your style?
500m: I get alot of inspiration in the famous métro of Montréal. Each station was designed by a different architect in the 60s and lots of modern art is integrated throughout the network. My favorite stations would be “du Parc”, “Pie-IX”, “Verdun”, “Peel” and “du Collège”.
FW: How much has changed in the street art scene in Montreal before and after you began creating street and canvas art?
500m: There was already something special going on with the urban and graffiti painters, people have used oil-bars here in multicolored pieces here for some time, the Under Pressure jam was the bible and then some guy painted lots of contextual ground pieces, another made fake vintage signs on abandoned storefronts. Unfortunately, I don’t see as much contextual works today. There are lots of street art posters and stencils but far less “urban painting”.
FW: What is different about your style and approach to street art compared to everyone else?
500m: I would think my art ressembles in many ways to the art I love. Though i could say my approach may be more multidisciplinary. I like to think of my projects as of “special” projects involving non-traditional mediums or approach in regard to popular urban painting. Almost every project is a niche of its own.
FW: What is the overall message do you try to convey in your work?
500m: I focus on inspiring a sense of interaction.
FW: What appealed to you about the Vitaminwater campaign?
500m: That they gave me alot of freedom. I also saw what they did with other artists and though it was very fun and I like the esthetic that freeagency.com cooked up.
FW: How long did the entire process take with creating the piece/mural for Vitaminwater?
500m: 2 weeks before the shoot, we found this incredible location … and It took 3 days to paint.
FW: How much has the campaign affected the neighborhoods of Montreal?
500m: The neighbours are ecstatic. Everytime I see them, they tell me how much people are appreciating the mural while going home from work. It’s a great feeling! Even better, the chairs are cemented in the sidewalk by the neighbors and people have been steadily using the space for resting, talking and playing with children!
FW: How was your experience collaborating with Alejandro Figueroa?
500m: Having him doing all the paperwork and approching the different aspects of production let me focus on the sketching and painting. He was a perfect match for this project. Alej is passionate and it shows!
FW: How does your style match/reflect the Vitamin Water brand?
500m: Their #brilliantworks project is about making boring brillant. My intervention is a good exemple of that.
FW: Why did you decide to paint that piece for them?
500m: It was mostly a dialogue between me and the neighbors. It was important to integrate the chairs thats why they sit in a puddle. And part of the sidewalk we’re removed to make room for flower beds and trees. That’s why I chose the tree as main figure.
FW: What is the meaning behind the piece for Vitaminwater?
500m: It is a representation of the renewable ressources system that is given to us by gods.
500m and Vitmanwater’s teamwork has succeeded in transforming the boring into brilliant. The cooperation and effort that went into this specific project demonstrates how a brand and an artist can have a positive effect and influence in our lives. The joy is brought to the faces and lives of the respective neighborhood in Montreal is exactly why art exists, thrives, and inspires. For more information on the #brilliantworks / #projectsbrilliant campaign, please go to http://thisisfreeagency.com/projects/brilliant-works.
Next week large format prints of 500M’s street art will be featured in the Freshwounds gallery, so stay tuned…