ROBERTO MATTA

Santiago du Chili 1911 - Rome 2002

A Chilean artist, Roberto Matta Echaurren was born in Santiago de Chile in 1911 and died near Roma in 2002.

After having studied architecture in his home country, he moved to France in 1933 and joined Le Corbusier's studio. He then travelled in Spain, Scandinavia or London, and met Henry Moore, Roland Penrose, Alvar Aalto or René Magritte.

When he discovered Matta's work, Dali introduced him to André Breton. Matta was then initiated to Surrealism and pulled away Le Corbusier's rationalism. During a stay at the château de Chemillieu, he met Yves Tanguy who would have a major influence on his style. Since then, Matta explored automatic writing : applying color with a rag, he let the color decide the pictorial layout.

Exiled in New York with Marcel Duchamp, he exhibited at the surrealist gallery Julien Levy. In the USA, he got passionate by the new scientific theories and experienced phosphorescent painting. It gave his paintings the possibility to change depending on the lighting. He notably welcomed Jackson Pollock in his studio.

After having settled down in Italy, Matta returned to Chile and participated in the first Cultural Congress in Havana in 1968. However, the overthrow of the general Pinochet in 1973 forced him to break with his Chilean roots and to return in Italy. This separation would be for Matta, a decisive element in the assertion of his style and he would said himself : 'It is that exil that determined my entire life, between two cultures. My work is a work of separation. [...] From exile I came to the 'Ex-il', somewhere between the known and the unknown, between reality and imaginary. Where poetry begins'.

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