Santiago Mateu i Pla (Malgrat de Mar, 1891 – Badalona, 1935) studied drawing at the municipal school in Caner Guifre in Badalona and later at the academy run by the painter Eduard Flo in the same city. As of 1912 he exhibited in Malgrat, Badalona, Barcelona, Girona, Reus and Figueres. Although he painted some oils, he mainly focused on drawing with dip pen and charcoal.
His works earned him the praise of some critics, parlicularly Joan Sacs (Feliu Elias). He also won some prizes, such as the one awarded in 1931 in a competition organised by the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya within the context of a project that studied the Catalan masia or farmhouse.
The subject matter of his work mostly consisted of urban scenes – with a special predilection for Girona, as well as seascapes, gardens, farmhouses and landscapes in general. He initially took an academic approach but his style evolved, especially after 1915, towards very loose, spontaneous lines. Around 1920 he also began to produce meticulous, detailed drawings.
Married to Josepa Bari, daughter of Antoni Bari i Fontesta, he became part of the cultural scene in Badalona, where he had lived since 1901, and contributed to local publications with both drawings and articles. His writings also appeared in the Girona press, especially in El Autonomista, the republican newspaper edited by the brothers Darius and Carles Rahola, where he published reviews devoted to contemporary Catalan artists
such as the caricaturists Lluis Bagaria and Feliu Elias (Apa) and the Girona painters Manuel Pigem i Ros and Iosep Gelabert, among others. He maintained an interesting correspondence with Carles Rahola and was offered the project of illustrating a book by the latter with drawings of Girona landscapes. In the end the project did not go ahead, perhaps due to the artist’s death.
His unlimely demise in 1935, the fact that he had not become a professional artist, and the rupture of the Civil War caused him to fall into oblivion.