You could say that Mattea Perrotta’s Le Marais apartment is like the work she creates: It’s minimal yet intimate, filled with just enough detail to have it radiate with energy upon closer inspection. Besides the essential painting supplies that enable the Venice beach native to also use the space as her studio, there’s a small selection of books (Matisse In Morocco, a collection of work by Henry Taylor), a French press, a 35mm Pentax, a vase of flame-colored tulips in a simple glass vase, rolling papers, dried flowers for a friend.
A recent transplant to Paris, she seems to have made herself quite at home since moving here in March, a fact that’s further evidenced by her sporadic, conversational use of French as we chat, sip coffee, smoke, and waver between topics ranging from the personal to the political. And while she seems mostly at ease — likely because she’s long been a world traveler, having spent time in Morocco, Turkey, Senegal, and Mexico to name just a few past explorations — there’s also a bit of charming mystery. Arguably the same kind that pulls you into the organic, painterly shapes on her canvases.
When she’s not painting these days, you’re likely to find Perrotta quietly but confidently exploring her new surroundings: sitting in a nearby park with a tutor to improve her use of the language, discovering new niches via metro or bicycle, and connecting with new and old friends at intimate, artful gatherings. For all these activities she prefers the simplest of bag shapes: the tote - “a simple shape and generous size which gives me freedom to carry studio supplies, books or whatever from my day."
Perrotta comes across as an old soul, decidedly thriving in this new context of French effortlessness, which makes a lot of sense with the kind of work she creates. A Berkley grad, she initially began her art career with realistic portraiture, finding herself mostly drawn to the fine details of forms, which she’d blow up and voraciously render to capture mood and emotion. This became increasingly abstracted into the work she creates today: soft-edged forms that float somewhere between figurative and geometric, interacting with one another in a way that feels more human than traditional minimalism.
And it’s this approach, this purposeful unfussy-ness that’s internally complex, that shows up in her lifestyle as well. Much like the carefully chosen items in the Marais apartment, the contents of Perrotta’s minimally designed tote are thoughtful, but with express purposes. “Choosing a bag comes down to essentials,” she explains. “I don’t need much: chapstick, glasses, a decent pen and notebook, and wallet of course. I prefer to keep it as simple as possible — life is already too damn complicated.”
But much like her paintings, the simplicity belies a few intimate details that tell a story — if you know where to look for them. “I’m not a person that gets attached to tokens, I find them to be unnecessary and annoying,” she shares. “I do however carry an old photograph of my dad that’s kept together with duct tape in my wallet, and a lock of my best friend's hair in a mini plastic bag inside my notebook.”Photographs by Jane Dylan Cody