Roberto Matta
(1911 - 2002)


Roberto Antonio Sebastián Matta Echaurren was born in Santiago, Chile. He was educated in his native country as an architect and interior designer. At the end of 1934, Matta visited Spain, where he met the poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, Salvador Dalí and Andre Breton, who strongly influenced his artistic formation and subsequently connected him to the Surrealist movement, which he officially joined in 1937. Matta arrived in New York City in the fall of 1938, just after his change from drawing to painting. During this non-figurative period, he developed his palette and use of color to create energized forms and space.
Consistent with his later works and with Surrealist theories, Matta began his exploration of the visionary landscape of the subconscious while he focused on the spiritual effect of the machinations of war. The visual landscape he creates connects us to each other, implying that when we declare war on others, we are really waging war with ourselves. The forms he created were organic and existed in symbiotic relationship with machines.
In 1947, Matta was expelled from the Surrealists, and he returned to Europe. The 1960s marked not only a change in his themes, but in his style. He found influences in contemporary culture while remaining close to his Surrealist roots.
His work can generally be split into two areas: cosmic and apocalyptic paintings. Matta left Chile as a young man and did not like to be thought of as a "Latin American" artist. He was certainly one of the few Surrealist artists to take on political, social and spiritual themes directly and without abandoning the biomorphic mutations he is known for and without resorting to social realism.