Friday, November 04, 2011

Santiago. For the second time in two days, I visited Mavi, the Museo de Artes Visuales, a rather small museum downtown Santiago. One of my biggest thrills about being here in Chile is finding that I can see more works by Chilean painter Roberto Matta. Mavi promised several in its current exhibition titled "La Coleccion."

Last summer in Madrid, my discovery of Matta for my first time was life-changing for me and he immediately ensconced himself and Numero Uno on my list of favorite visual artists. Alas, I cannot include any of his images here for you because I respect copyright laws and ethics, but you can easily do a search for Roberto Matta images and get a gist of his work. What you cannot see online, though, is how intricate and how amazingly layered his paintings and drawings are...not to mention their often-gargantuan sizes and the sometimes glowing colors. They really are worth the effort to track them down in person.

What is it about Matta's work that is so compelling? Layers. He must have invented the concept of layers in visual art. His expression using so many different layers is immediate, both clarifying visions and making them mysterious at the same time. While I am a Photoshop afficionada, partly because of its power in working in layers, I see the difference, though: Photoshop is about piling layers on top of each other to show differing elements through each other. Matta's use of layers is to depict six related points of view at the same time.

How can this be possible? Well, "getting" this concept is precisely the best thing about the Mavi exhibit. It was demonstrated by a small lucite cube with a ganglia of (what may have been representing) neurons glowing in the middle. On every side of the cube were simple linear sketches depicting Matta-type concepts. The wall tag explained that this small maquette reveals in 3D Matta's intentions with his 3D paintings to show all of what he sees around him, not just one point of view. It is different from, say, Picasso's efforts to show various points of view of an object, as Picasso's are external; Matta is, instead, in the middle of what he is painting. 

It results in extraordinary works. Even before seeing the lucite cube (which I will never forget), I was telling my companion how I saw so many layers in Matta's work, as if he had worked painting on top of painting and you could see through all of them. Or that he was like Dali, only much more dimensional and pushing Dali to the nth. So, something as simple as the little model added a new way of thinking to my little maquette of ganglia, which I hope will glow some more and maybe take off in all directions. 

It is for reasons like this that I travel.

Note: the image of my own, Curtain Call, that I am including in this post pales in comparison to Matta's work. Of course. It is a small offering of something for you to look at, just because I cannot include his.

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