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ROBERTO MATTA. A retrospective at the Bank Austria Kunstforum Vienna

Category: Exhibition 6. March 2024

Under the title "Matta", the new exhibition at the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien presents a comprehensive selection of works by Roberto Matta, offering an overview of the work of this great Surrealist individualist for the first time since his last retrospective in Vienna in 1991.
The show was created in collaboration with the Roberto Matta Estate and Gmurzynska gallery, and was curated by director Ingried Brugger, assisted by Christina Panholzer.
Born in Chile in 1911, Matta was initially a trained architect and worked as an assistant at the Spanish pavilion at the 1937 Paris World Exhibition. There he became acquainted with Picasso's Guernica and began to draw under this impression and later, as an autodidact, to paint.
Salvador Dalí encouraged him to continue on this path. Matta's approach to painting differs significantly from that of the other surrealist artists. He never practiced detailed hyperrealism with objects combined in illogical ways, as with Salvador Dalí and René Magritte, but created undefined spaces populated by strange figures that resembled mechanical structures of an organic nature.
His first landscapes, scenes and states of mind do not depict anything real or dreamed, but only mental states. Matta worked on the basis of "psychic automatism", which consists of liberating the unconscious without turning on the mind - the creative process used by the surrealists.
Matta's paintings from 1938 - 1939, Morfologías psicológicas (Psychological Morphologies) are a pictorial realization of his graphic approach. He was fascinated the inner world and expressed his idea of life as a sequence of spatio-temporal images. In this way, he creates true mental landscapes in which the organic and the inorganic merge: Caves inhabited by membranes, mucous membranes, nerve endings, arteries and muscles, intermingled with rocks, pebbles and shapes between which various fluids circulate. All of this is connected by a faint glow intrinsic to the shapes, standing out against the dark background of the whole, giving the composition a unity and a sense of intimacy. We find ourselves in front of the most intimate areas of our thoughts, in the place where the images received by the brain are processed, where what is perceived still exists as a collage. André Breton, the ideologue of Surrealism (and author of the Surrealist Manifesto), regarded Matta's psychological morphologies as representatives of the purest automatism. For him, Joan Miró and Matta were the most "surrealist" painters. Matta's work had a decisive influence on an entire generation of artists, including Pollock, Gorky, De Kooning and Rothko.
The 4 x 10 meter work "Coïgitum" is impressive in the Kunstforum: futuristic, machine-like but seemingly living forms hover in front of a blue space, simultaneously representational and abstract.
In Matta's work, there is no figure-ground phenomenon, no front and back, no individual entities, but rather a continuity between bodies; a constant dynamic of transparencies, lines and multiple spaces in reciprocal relationships
Space is the central theme in the work of the former architect Matta - space as form and content. It is pictorial space, physical space and psychological space, the place where phenomena occur: the unfathomable space of human existence. (written by Cem Angeli)

The exhibition at the Bank Austria Kunstforum is open until June 2nd 2024.

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