Los Angeles

“Matta from 1940–1962”

Frank Perls Gallery

The title of this show is some­what misleading as the show consists primarily of recent aquatints (from 1961–1962). However, with these aquat­ints Matta slips in next to Paul Klee and Joan Miró as an inhabitant of that deadly serious man-child world of sym­bols, space and imagination. He uses Klee’s and Miró’s alive wash space for his lines to float and build upon, but his space is more tonally varied. To quote Matta’s pinpointing pun, they are Conscience-Fiction pieces.

The seven oil paintings, five from 1940, one from 1950 and one from 1960, are enough to show the evolution and takeover by spatial environment in his painting, together with the simplifi­cation and delineation of the human­-mechanical subject matter.

The small aquatint series on transportation, L’Autobus, Les Autos, Les Bateaux, and L’Helicoptor are accompanied by their original pastel sketches and show Matta’s unique abil­ity to be as a child in color, line, fun and imagination while making a perceptive adult comment on mechaniza­tion.

What strikes one most however, are the aquatints selected from Come Detta Dentro Vo Significando. Come Detta is a serious attempt to inte­grate text and plot into a third entity. The title from Dante translates “as said within so it is shown” and the plates seem very apt. Of the forty-seven plates, about a quarter are shown in color but not in the fantasy candy store color most typical of Matta; instead they are dulled blues, pinks, and purples, used as value and space structure. These Come Detta aquatints have a space and power far surpassing their size, yet not infringing on their boundaries, a small glimpse of a large heaven. A rare accomplishment for a restrained, mis­leadingly gay print. In spite of a slight surreal tinge, they relate directly to Leonardo’s notebooks, and the mech­anized movement and dynamism of the futurists.

Finally, in the lower left hand area of some of these prints are variations on one of the most original figural sym­bols this reviewer has ever seen. Whether it is a man turning into a ma­chine or a machine turning into a man, or a man embracing a machine or two machines embracing each other, or a man and a machine praying together, it is hard to forget these mantis’ of Matta.

Jorgen L. Hansen