Final work of Roberto Matta: homecoming show for iconic Chilean artist

Unique exhibition of the contemporary art’s “last surrealist” currently showing in Santiago’s AMS Marlborough gallery.

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A swathe of exhibitions were displayed around the world this year to commemorate the hundredth year since the birth of one of the seminal figures of 20th century surrealist and abstract artRoberto Matta.

Now a collection of Matta’s work is being shown in his city of birth, Santiago, in an exhibition that offers a completely different perspective of one of Chile’s most internationally renowned artists.

And the best news is: it’s free.

The global spotlight turned onto the Chilean icon in 2011 befitted an artist who spent much of his adult life abroad, cultivating strong ties with international circles of intellectuals and artists, such as Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, and whose work was a unique blend of European, North and Latin America traditions.

But where much of that attention was focused on his early works – which dealt with the themes of the human psyche as well as world politics – the AMS Marlborough exhibition explores a less well known aspect of the artist.

Next, the last message from Roberto Matta,” is curated by the artist’s son, Ramuntcho Matta – himself a visual artist and owner of the works – which consist of five large oil paintings and 22 drawings that were done around the turn of the century, in the last years of the artist’s life.

These later works reveal the scope of Matta’s wide range of intellectual interests, particularly in the fields of science and astronomy.

“Matta was always very interested in science, which set him apart from other surrealists,” his friend Eduardo Carrasco told Chilean daily , La Tercera. “He liked to read about physics, but he hid it, because he didn’t want to seem scholarly. He was spontaneous and curious, he always sought to discover the limits of the mind, and of space.”

That exploration of space came to define Matta’s legacy as a pioneer of new dimensions and perspectives in modern art. It is a legacy that AMS Marlborough pays homage to even in the arrangement of his work; some of which are hung directly onto the gallery’s ceiling.

The exhibition also looks at how Matta used his scientific interests to contrast the emotions of the human mind with the enormity of the cosmos.

“The images of Matta. . .  go beyond the surreal illustration of the unconscious,” says the exhibition’s curator. “His work transcends, speaks to us of man, his dreams and history. Wars, torture and injustices inspire their vast compositions.”

The exhibition runs until Dec. 5  at the AMS Marlborough gallery, located at 3723 Avenida Nueva Costanera, Vitacura. It is open from 10 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday and 11 am to 2 pm Saturday.

By Joe Hinchliffe