Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Black Virtue: The Chilling Chilean

"Black Virtue" 1943

I fell in love with this Roberto Matta painting at the Tate Modern.
In the two side panels of this triptych the imagery has a mechanistic, science fiction quality. But in the centre the forms are organic, suggesting references to sexual parts. Matta was concerned with capturing the inner world of the mind. Black Virtue evokes a fluid mental landscape in an extreme combination of eroticism and violence.
 (From the display caption August 2004)

In late 1939, after the outbreak of the Second World War, Matta moved to New York, where other European Surrealists were to spend the war years. He had his first one-man show in 1940 at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York’s centre of what was then this new import of Surrealism. It was at this point that Matta became a key figure in the development of Abstract Expressionism. He became friendly with Arshile Gorky, Robert Motherwell (who worked with him in Mexico), Jackson Pollock, and William Baziotes, and encouraged them to experiment with these new automatic techniques. Had these painters not been subsequently repackaged as the New York School, Matta would be famed as a founding father of (pan-) American Abstract Expressionism.

Roberto Matta, painter, was born on November 11, 1911, in Chiloe, Santiago, Chile. He died in Civitavecchia, Italy, on November 23, 2002, aged 91.

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