A Grave Situation (1946) by Roberto Sebastian Antonio Matta Echaurren

Artwork Information

TitleA Grave Situation
ArtistRoberto Sebastian Antonio Matta Echaurren
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions54 x 77 in.
Current LocationMuseum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
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About A Grave Situation

A Grave Situation – Roberto Sebastian Antonio Matta Echaurren – 1946 is an oil on canvas painting created in 1946. The artwork measures 55 x 77 1/8 inches (139.7 x 195.9 cm), and is currently owned by the Mary and Earle Ludgin Collection in a private collection. The painting consists of dark, yet vivid colors and surrealist figures which build a sense of unease and mystery around it.

The scene represented in the painting appears to be apocalyptic, with an eerie sky, dilapidated buildings and a gravestone in the foreground. This implies a spiritual march towards death as Matta intended to participate with this style of Surrealist paintings that ask questions about the fragility of life, memory and identity in relation to death. His intention was to evoke psychological anxieties and myths surrounding potential worlds after death or imaginary ones we humans will never be able to see.

The painting also explores notions of censorship and visual ambiguity as Matta wanted viewers to decipher their own interpretations from the shapes, forms, symbols within the artwork itself. Blue Nude (Iv) – Henri Matisse – is another painting that dives into similar topics through its minimalistic composition and ambiguous content. Both these artworks represent an unconventional way of exploring human emotions through oil on canvas paintngs which leave viewers with an experience that words cannot fully describe.

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