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Epcot International Festival of the Arts – Artist Profile: Tom Matousek

–Tiera Tanner, WDW Radio Team

Tom Matousek returns to the 2024 Epcot International Festival of the Arts sharing his newest paintings inspired by beloved Disney characters. 

“This will be my fifth year heading to the festival,” said Matousek. “Initially my publisher, Disney Fine Art, had me in their booth near France for five days – it was surreal to say the least. The second year, I was there a bit longer with Disney Fine Art and Promenade Fine Art (formerly Wyland Gallery) added me to their line-up of artists, as well. I now spend about a week in each booth.” 

Matousek is a self-taught artist who officially became a Disney Fine Artist in 2016.

“Although I had a successful mural painting business for years, I didn’t start pursuing a career as a fine artist until my early 40s,” Matousek explained. “I didn’t want to get to retirement age and wonder, ‘What if I had actually pursued my dream?’ I began using geometric shapes to create portraits with positive response from the public. Most call my style cubism, but I think Abstract Impressionism better describes it.”

Matousek’s art style deconstructs characters into geometric shapes, often with a limited monochromatic palette. He explained that he is developing more color and texture into his paintings by using palette knives to scrape and build up layers of paint.

“I am always looking for ways to improve my artwork to give it a true “fine art” feel. I’ve been experimenting with palette knives to give the paintings more texture,” he explained. “I first introduced this ‘new look’ at last year’s (2023) festival and it was well received. This year I will have more textured pieces. I’ll have a good representation in both booths so I am excited to see how people respond to it.” 

Two paintings Matousek introduced at this year’s festival were square portraits of Wall-E from Disney-Pixar’s Wall-E (2008) and the Cheshire Cat from Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (1951). 

“One newer piece this year is my painting of Wall-E’s eyes that I am crazy about,” said Matousek. “Look for it at the Promenade booth. And look for the new release of my Cheshire Cat at the Disney Fine Art booth near Canada. Collectors may notice that I’m exploring using more saturated colors and colors that I am uncomfortable with to push my creativity.”

In the new Wall-E piece, titled Wall-E’s Eyes, Wall-E’s robotic eyes dominate the square canvas with a slight tilt as if gazing into the galaxy around him. The reflection of stars and galactic haze serve as highlights in the mechanical irises. The open composition leaves the viewer to interpret not only Wall-E, but the endless purple space surrounding him. The background is created by shades of purple and violet with vertical palette knife scrapes. Soft white dots seem to sparkle around Wall-E, leading the viewer’s eye back to the robot’s mesmerizing eyes. Wall-E is created by Matousek’s signature geometric shapes with tones of light gray and purple. Although the Pixar character is created by sharp lines and a cool palette, the expression of Wall-E’s eyes is curious, warm, and emotion-evoking.

Matousek reflected on creating paintings for the Festival of the Arts stating that he looks forward to having a “larger body of work that is more explorative and creative each year.”

The Festival of the Arts also provided Matousek the opportunity to reconnect with previous collectors, friends, and fellow artists.

“[O]ne of the things I look forward to most each year is connecting with the other artists,” Matousek said. “It’s an amazing community to be a part of and we are all friends.”

To experience Matousek’s paintings, visit the Disney Fine Art or Promenade booths at the festival or stop in The Art of Disney galleries across Walt Disney World.