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Roberto Matta (Chile) bio notes

Posted by Mark Schneider on February 29, 2012 0 Comments

Roberto Antonio Sebastián Matta Echaurren (November 11,1911November 23,2002)

Usually known as Matta, was one of Chile's best-known painters. Born in Santiago, he initially studied architecture at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, but became disillusioned with this occupation and left for Paris. His travels led him to meet artists such as René Magritte,Salvador Dalí,André Breton,andLe Corbusier.He arrived in Paris in 1934 and was soon working in the architectural studio of Le Corbusier. He also traveled to Italy, Russia and Spain, where he met the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who provided him with a letter of introduction to Salvador Dali. Back in Paris, by 1937, he had exhibited his first drawings and had become a part of the influential Surrealist Group led by Andre Brenton.

It was Breton who provided the major spur to the Chilean's direction in art, encouraging his work and introducing him to the leading members of the Paris Surrealist movement. Matta produced illustrations and articles for Surrealist journals such as Minotaure. During this period he was introduced to the work of many prominent contemporary European artists, such as Pablo PicassoandMarcel Duchamp.

By 1938, he was painting and becoming increasingly attracted to the inner self and the unconscious. He put forward a Freudian theory of architecture and painted what he called, "Psycological Morphologies", or, alternatively, "Inscapes". These paintings, which depicted imagery of the unconscious mind, were created with the techniques of "automatic composition" which he had developed within the Surrealist Group.

He spent the war years in New York, where he stayed until 1948. In this period, he greatly influenced the American Surrealist Movement while also being strongly influenced by everything around him. In the early 1940's, he was attracted by the "untameable nature" of the American continent and this is clearly reflected in his art, which becamed more violent, erotic and explosive, yet always within a defined cosmos, one which he believed symbolized the unity of all things. In the middle of that decade, he changed the direction of his work. He met Marcel Duchamp and at the same time became fascinated by the relationship between modern man and the technological world. He used ancient Mexican symbolism to create a new pictorial imagery with which to highlight the alienation of mdoern man in a world dominated by machinery.

He moved back to Europe in 1950 and lived in Rome for four years. From Italy he went to Paris where he stayed until 1969. During this period, he became a French citizen and his style went through further changes. His work becamed more Exprssionistic and began to reflect what became for him his main concern in the late 1960's and beyond: a more political theme is apparant in his paintings but his still pursued his quest for the unconcious. In the highly politicized 1960's, Matta painted a number of mural-sized works depicting themes such as the Vietnam War and the civil rights struggle in Alabama. He then divided his time between Paris and Rome where he continued to paint vast, apocalyptic canvases and murals.

Since then Matta explored other artistic media: in 1990 he worked at the Piombino shipyards in Italy, where he made a 10 meter obelisk "Cosmos Now", representing a finger pointing to the sky. Between that year and 1993 he also worked at the Bonvincini foundry in Verona, where he was the author of a number of bronze statues. In 1992 he also worked in ceramics in the town of Faenza, while in the same year he painted large scale canvases, "Fire is the Depth of Consciousness", is one of them, which aim to represent humanity's deepest awareness. –Nordstamp.Matta died on November 23rd, 2002.

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