Roberto Matta’s life and art to be celebrated around the world

The famous Chilean artist will be the focus of exhibits in 2011 to celebrate the passing of 100 years since his birth in Santiago, Chile.

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Roberto Matta, one of Chile’s preeminent artists and an influential figure in abstract 20th century expressionist and surrealist art, will serve as an ambassador for his country even in death as several nations plan tributes to him in 2011.

Born in Santiago in November 1911, Matta, who spent time living in Chile, the United States and Europe before his death in Italy in 2002, would have been 100 years old next year on Nov. 11.

“We will promote the ‘Year of Matta’ with our embassies oversees. From March onwards, his name should begin being heard,” said Horacio del Valle, head of the organization Dirac which promotes and fosters Chile’s artistic and cultural presence abroad, in Chilean newspaper La Segunda.

Matta, an architect and painter who was perhaps best known for his oil paintings, will be honoured by events held in France, Italy and Mexico.

La Maison de l’Amérique Latine in Paris will display Matta sculptures sourced from public and private collections, in an event being organized by the Chilean Embassy in France,.

Rome will feature a retrospective of his work. “We are working hard on it,” Santiago Elordi, cultural attaché in the Chilean Embassy in Italy, told La Segunda. “Italy is deeply significant because he adopted it as his residence. There is great admiration for his work here.”

At the annual International Cervantes Culture Festival in Ganajuato, Mexico, 30 works will be on display in the exhibit “Roberto Matta: architecture of emotion,” after Matta’s illustrations for the Miguel de Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote.

The recognition for Matta will come following a year in which Chile was recognized globally as it celebrated its bicentenary and then completed the dramatic rescue of 33 miners trapped in the Atacama Desert.

On a cultural level, many events paying tribute to Chilean artists have been held this year and more are planned. These include the selection of the film “Post Mortem”, by Chilean Pablo Larrain, at the Venice Film Festival this year, and a planned anthology of Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American to win the Nobel Prize in literature, to be held in Italy next year.