Until 31 August 2022, Galerie Gmurzynska in Zürich presents a selection of masterpieces by Chilean artist Roberto Matta (1911-2002). Roberto Matta is regarded as one of the most important painters of the 20th Century. He was a leading global figure of the Surrealism movement. The ten paintings displayed in the show are dated from 1947 to 1969.
Roberto Matta: Les Témoins de l’Univers / Galerie Gmurzynska, Zürich. Zürich (Switzerland), June 10, 2022.
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To Roberto Matta the mission of the artist is to reveal the invisible and show the inscrutable. The artist invented a new perspective in his painting, conjuring up animated forms as if from another galaxy, diluting the colors and letting the brush flow over the canvas. The scope of expression of Matta’s visual hallucinations seems limitless. Andre Breton said frequently that “Matta is at the very forefront” of the artistic avant-garde of Surrealism.
In this selection of rare and monumental paintings, one can see how Matta succeeds in expressing in the most creative way the raw material of his emotions and visions. The artist erects an extra-real world, which pushes back the boundaries of imagination to see the world through the walls of consciousness. Matta’s works depict an imaginary world in motion through drawn images composed like a storyboard or a science-fiction comic panel. His works immerse us in a kind of fourth dimension, such as with the monumental triptych entitled La nature unie (1965) which envelops the viewer in an environment, as it was exhibited in Amiens in 1973 in a groundbreaking and gravity-defying installation. His expansion of the dimensions of perception was summed up by William Rubin, the pivotal curator of the Museum of Modern Art, who wrote “Matta became the only painter after Duchamp to explore wholly new possibilities in illusionistic space.”
Beyond being a major avant-garde painter, Roberto Matta heralded the vanguard of tomorrow in his works, influencing countless other modern masters. His monumental and abstract paintings made with brushes and rags as often as with paintbrushes prefigured the nascent abstract expressionist movement. The automatic painting process which Matta helped develop undoubtedly influenced the impulsive pictorial gesture of the day’s American painters. In New York, he imparted these techniques on figures such as Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollock, who owes to Roberto Matta his Surrealist education, his decision to paint on monumental canvases, and his introduction to his patron Peggy Guggenheim. His primordial influence on the New York school can be summarized – and is echoed by many others – in Motherwell’s statement that Matta“was the most energetic, poetic, charming, brilliant young artist that I’ve ever met.”
This Roberto Matta exhibition at Galerie Gmurzynska occurs at a time of a strong revival for Surrealism on the world’s art scene. The current Venice Biennale highlights paintings by female Surrealists; the Guggenheim Museum presents an exhibition Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity featuring Matta alongside Tanguy and Ernst; the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition showcases non-European Surrealist artists… The legacy of Surrealism that pervades today’s art world is perceptible in the works of many emerging artists. Now more than ever, we ought to take a closer look at a founding player in this school of art such as Roberto Matta.