Roberto Matta, a Chilean surrealist artist naturalized French, is best known for his work conceived as a true bridge between surrealism and abstract expressionism. Initially an architect, he worked for a time in Le Corbusier's studio before turning to painting through his encounters.
At the request of Salvador Dali, he established a connection with André Breton, who then introduced him to the surrealists. Alongside fellow members, he initially engaged in writing before delving into painting, developing a series of works where he experimented with a new technique: using a cloth, he spread color on the canvas, and the spread determined the subsequent brush strokes. This approach resembles the method of automatic writing. He named this series "Psychological Morphologies."
Forced to flee the war, Matta emigrated to the United States, where he enjoyed numerous solo exhibitions, notably organized by Julien Levy. It was during his stay in New York after 1944 that Matta painted his first large formats, featuring disjointed totemic figures inspired by so-called primitive arts.
A few years after returning to France, Matta was expelled from the surrealists by André Breton, who suspected him of having an affair with the wife of painter Arshile Gorky, leading to the artist's suicide. Matta then returned to Chile before coming back to live in Europe. Eager to be part of all revolutionary struggles, he was in Cuba in 1967, Paris in May 1968, and Santiago, Chile, in 1971. With him, a new genre of historical painting emerged from the fusion of surrealism, abstraction, and political commitment.
The 1960s marked a shift in Matta's work. The artist turned towards contemporary socio-political themes while still being strongly influenced by his surrealist roots