New York: Roberto Matta ‘Matta: a Centennial Celebration’ at Pace Gallery through January 28, 2012

January 17th, 2012

Roberto Matta, Untitled (1983). All images courtesy of The Pace Gallery.

The Pace Gallery’s Matta: a Centennial Celebration commemorates the life and work of the Chilean-born artist Roberto Matta. The exhibition was organized in collaboration with his children (he is the father of artist Gordon Matta-Clark) and concentrates on work created towards the end of his career. Born in 1911, Matta was a seminal figure in the art world, and his legacy and work continue to resonate. Matta: a Centennial Celebration features 14 paintings, many of which have never been viewed outside of Europe.

Roberto Matta, Untitled (1996)

Though he is best known for his oil paintings, Matta began his career drawing. It was his travels to Europe in the early 1930s—where he met Salvador Dalí, Arshile Gorky, and, perhaps most importantly, André Breton, who introduced him to the Surrealist movement—that inspired him to move away from drawing.

Roberto Matta, Comment une conscience se fait univers (peut-être) (1992)

In the Surrealist vein, Matta aimed to tangibly represent the human spirit and soul. His 1992 work Comment une conscience se fait univers (peut-être), meaning, “how the conscious makes the universe (maybe),” presents white rhombuses grouped together to form star-like polygons, floating on a background of blue paint and black scratches.

Roberto Matta, La terre et ses oignons (1994)

Roberto Matta, Untitled (circa 1990)

Matta’s paintings often emanate from a single point on the canvas. In Untitled (circa 1990), lines, both curved and bent, swirl around a white core, with other lines blurring to form a bluish-grey background.

Roberto Matta, Invisible Meetings (1996)

Because the exhibition concentrates on his later work, Matta’s more politically-charged paintings are not included, though the artist was greatly impacted by the shifting socio-political realities of World War II, the Vietnam War, and the political tumult in Chile. Matta’s work extends beyond Surrealism, as he is well-known for his influence on the Abstract Expressionists, including Jackson Pollack and Mark Rothko. ‘Matta: a Centennial Celebration’ follows a major retrospective at the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern and Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. And a centennial exhibition at the Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda in Santiago, Chile opened in November.

– G. Linden

Related links:

Exhibition Page [The Pace Gallery]
Roberto Matta [The Art Story]
The Greatness of Matta [artnet]
Matta at Pace Gallery [Too Much Art]
Matta at Pace Gallery [Painters' Table]
A centennial celebration of Roberto Matta [ArtDaily]