Roberto Sebastian Matta, the man and the universe
On the centenary of Roberto Sebastian Matta’s birth, Bologna’s Galleria d'Arte Maggiore - Gam kicks off the exhibition season with a tribute to one of the leading lights of surrealism (20 September 2012 - 20 January 2013). The exhibition, part of the celebrations organized in honour of the Chilean master in several countries, revolves around the eternal question of the relationship between the body and the universe: from his oil paintings to his sculptures, Roberto Sebastian Matta dedicated his artistic career to humans, who have always been the undisputed protagonists of his works.
The artist, a leading figure in the early 20th century avant-garde and post-war abstract art, was born in Santiago, Chile in 1911. After completing his studies in architecture, he moved to Paris, where he befriended Le Corbusier and met many other leading personalities of the time, including Federico García Lorca, André Breton and Salvador Dalì. While in the Ville Lumière, the Chilean master adhered to the surrealist movement, and developed a painting style centred on psychological morphologies, before leaving for a series of destinations, from Scandinavia to New York City, where he settled as World War II was beginning, and where he deeply influenced several young American artists, Jackson Pollock and Ashley Gorky foremost among them. In 1949 he moved to Rome, where he forged close links with Italy, and the town of Tarquinia in particular. He died in 2002, having dedicated his entire life to art, through his journeys all over Europe, which had become a source of inspiration for his works: the solitary journey is a recurring theme in his artistic output, and led his to explore both the relationship between man and the universe, and his own inner self.
The exhibition, designed by Franco and Roberta Calarota, traces the various phases in the artist’s career, and describes the numerous techniques he adopted over the course of his life and his many voyages. It begins with works recalling war-ravaged landscapes after bombing campaigns and the “magmatic” works characteristic of his output during the 1950s, and continues with the contorted figures that marked his art until his death. A major characteristic of these paintings is their large format, with splotches of colour enclosing forms and skinny, barely perceptible, almost skeleton-like figures. As the artist himself wrote: «In every splotch I am searching for something, something unfamiliar and unseen, something new and unknown to me. And I work so that this may become even more unknown».