Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Venice Journal I: Roberto Matta and Sons

“Spitting” (1974) by Gordon Matta-Clark
The Fondazione Querini Stampalia is an inauspicious structure that houses great beauty inside, both architecturally (due to the contributions of the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa) and in the works it displays. Now it’s exhibiting a show devoted to the Chilian artist Roberto Sebastian Matta and his two sons,  Gordon Matta-Clark and Pablo Echaurren. Roberto Matta was befriended by Dali and Breton and he brought the surrealist impulse to South America—something which uniquely complements, the literary work of Marquez and the magical realists. His son, Gordon Matta-Clark was associated with a whole new generation of avant-gardists amongst them the performance artist Joan Jonas and choreographer and dancer Trisha Brown, but when you see the photograph of his famed work “Splitting,” a conceptual piece in which a house is literally cut in two from l974 or his “Conical Intersect” (1975), a huge hole in a wall, you realize that the Matta-Clark the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. In this case a surrealist gave birth to a conceptualist. Echaurren is the only member of the family who is still alive and his “Wall of Fame and Shame” (2012), displayed in the current show, is a monumental panel that seems to create its own language out of language. Echaurren is now the sword bearer of the family. Is it oxymoronic to discuss a tradition of avant-gardism?

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