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Acacio Mateo Pérez Castejón

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About the Artist/Site

Little is known about the work or life of Acacio Mateo, although one can assume—given the data inscribed on the tombs in the family’s burial plot—that the family had an extensive history in Lorca. It appears that Mateo did his military service in Barcelona and, while there, obviously encountering the works of Antoni Gaudí, became so enthused by the ceramic ornamentation on the buildings and parks that he brought tiles from the Catalan capital to his home in Lorca in his suitcase, taking advantage of special permissions available only to the military.

Mateo worked for a time in Barcelona in construction and in the Comandancía de Ingenieros de Barcelona [Engineering Command], occupations that provided him with an understanding of the possibilities inherent in various building materials. He designed the decoration of his home’s façade, fabricating the two curvilinear front balconies (one of which was later ripped out by a truck that veered too close to the façade) as well as the rooftop balustrades and the Moorish-style arches and window treatments, casting the concrete forms in wooden molds and then installing them vertically. Later, he laid the tiles in by hand. The ornamentation of the house was begun prior to the Spanish Civil War and took more than two decades to complete.

Despite the intricacy of the various fences and balustrades, Mateo’s particular genius was primarily manifested not in construction but in adornment and surface treatment: he completely dressed the existing simple two-story house—a house that, in the fashion of many urban centers, is not freestanding, but shares common walls with its neighbors on both sides—with a full sheath that covered not only the façade of the house but numerous interior components as well, including furniture in addition to the floors and walls.

But even more whimsical and more elaborate still is the family burial plot, located some distance away from the home in the outskirts of Lorca in the Cementerio Parroquial San Cristóbal. The rectangular plot—built up and developed in 1963 to honor the death of his father on August 16 of that year, with additional work completed with the later deaths of mother and brother—is ornamented not only with colorful and imaginative trencadís and tile work, but also with sculpted benches, flowerpots and bas-relief flowers, undulating fences, and assorted constructions displaying religious symbols that reveal Mateo’s idiosyncratic and increasingly effervescent creative style. In contrast to the sober tombs and pantheons in the rest of the cemetery, the Mateo/Pérez Castejón plot bursts with color and with life.

The exterior of the house, located on a busy thoroughfare, may be viewed from the street; the cemetery plot is also available for viewing. It appears that neither of Mateo’s constructions suffered significant damage in the May 11, 2011, earthquakes (magnitudes 4.5 and 5.2), although it is known that other structures in the cemetery sustained significant damage, as did some 80 to 85 percent of the buildings in Lorca.

~Jo Farb Hernández

 



Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Lorca, Region of Murcia, Spain
Latitude/Longitude: 37.673593 / -1.696836

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