Gilbert & George E1 – ATMA (part I)

ATMA charm gets you everywhere
His mural work of Gilbert & George at the Cafe1001

The French artist ATMA, living and working in East London, oozes charm and charisma. His art ranges from abstract painting, portraits and graffiti to music and Indian head massage. He says ’there is no difference between my approach to painting, music and massage. It is all art”.

My first encounter with Matt, ATMA, was at a cocktail reception for the unveiling of his mural work of Gilbert & George at the Cafe1001, the Truman Brewery in London E1.

Upon my arrival at the reception, Cafe1001 was packed with the ‘happening crowd’ in their skinny jeans and airs of importance. I was welcomed by Mat, this charming handsome artist wearing a suit and a killer smile. He looked more like an established gentleman artist than a street artist who paints on walls. His attentiveness to his guests struck me as so generous in a part of London, where charm is generally absent and perceived as ‘un cool’.


Mural work of Gilbert & George at the Cafe1001

The mural work in itself is large with bold colours covering the entire wall. ATMA captures his sitters self confidence in a typical pose. With subjects such as Gilbert & George, it sure attracted a crowd.

For many years, the artists Gilbert & George lived and worked in this part of London. Though, historically, East London was more associated with social immigrants and less with art. Now, E1 has metamorphosed into the home of bohemian art. It is the new ‘happening’ London attracting many visitors seeking the latest street art and hoping to discover the next Damien Hirst.

Cafe1001 commissioned ATMA to create a work of importance for their space. They discussed the idea of painting some known personality from the area and Matt suggested Gilbert & George. At that stage, Matt did not know the artist couple personally. But twice lucky, chance meetings walking in the street, has obtained their consent for the work and secured their attendance at the unveiling reception.

Gilbert & George and ATMA

I asked myself that evening, how did such a young artist as Matt get to do such an important piece of work. My own experience with speaking to the couple Gilbert and George has confirmed to me what I suspected. Their energy was frigid, unwelcoming and rather self important.
Perhaps, my prejudiced opinion will be challenged by ‘With Gilbert and George’, a film about to be screened during the coming 22nd BFI film festival. It traces their journey from their early years to their 2007 retrospective at the Tate Modern.

My prize that evening was meeting an artist of our future, ATMA. It is often the case, one meets people who are busy with great works of our times, and one does not realize at that instance. ATMA’s work is specific in style and has its own signature. The work is from the heart and full of sensitivity and generosity towards the subject. He says ‘I seek to bring the soul of the sitter’ in his work.

Could that moment have been the instance where I met ATMA, the iconic artist of our generation!! Only time will tell.

Article by Roubi l’ Roubi for

Stampfli & Turci – Art Dealers

Disclaimer & Copyright


~ by Stampfli & Turci on March 25, 2008.

One Response to “Gilbert & George E1 – ATMA (part I)”

  1. nice art blog !!!

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