Matías Paradela






Not For Sale


About the Artist

Matías Nicólas Paradela (aka Niño Grande), born in 1989 in Tolosa, Argentina, is a painter. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the school of the University of La Plata, specializing in Social and Design Studies. He briefly studied sculpture at the National Theater of La Plata city. When he was 17 years old, he was an art teacher, and later, he also began teaching morphology for industrial design. He started his art career as an art director for animation, specifically stop-motion films, in Celeste Studio founded by the filmmaker Yashira Jordan, who began collaborating with him in 2013. Paradela had his first solo show in La Paz, Bolivia, in 2014. There, he met his mentor, Keiko González, an important abstract expressionist painter who generously opened his studio and gave him all his materials to work with. They continue collaborating with each other, painting every year in Malvern, a studio house in Memphis, Tennessee together with the artist Mary Jo Karimnia. Paradela is now represented by Kiosko Gallery in Bolivia and PARA A in Mexico City.

Artist Statement

As a Buenos Aires painter based in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, my artwork reflects my experiences and observations of these places. For over six years, I have been painting a series of propane tanks as if they were antique vases from different parts of the world and from various periods. I melted all this iconography, drastically changing the shapes and colors until only a few elements remained recognizable.
It's tough to understand how relevant propane tanks are and how they interact with the day-to-day life of anybody in Bolivia; you see them anywhere, from the chaotic markets to the kitchen of a fancy house or forming barricades on streets during strikes. No matter your position in the social structure or your background, you are more likely to need one. They are an essential symbol of the country's modern identity, and somehow, they remain almost invisible, inadvertently crossing private and public spaces.

They keep you warm on the cold nights in the mountains and cook your food at home or outside. They are essential elements for survival.
Gas tanks are the common threat of a highly divided society, a country whose wealth distribution is so unfair that it creates the most contrasting landscape. That's how I find common threads so valuable and powerful. A whole collection of little pictures can speak of a bigger Bolivia.  

Most recently, I have been painting several propane tanks stacked together in a more expressive, less literal way. The newest work is messier and closer to what I feel is the core of this series: the street markets of Bolivia, where propane tanks are ubiquitous.

My newest work strives to reflect how I encounter the gas tanks in the markets, one on top of the other, with chains around them, forming barrier walls, pyramids, or smaller configurations, like a column or totem. Sometimes, they support cases of beer or baskets of bread, creating a sort of adoration figure or a pagan goddess, equally benevolent and dangerous, vital and lethal.