Matta - Chaosmos
It was as early in
the thirties of the last century that Matta made a point of establishing
his creative ego in structures of architectural thinking and imagination
and unanimously emphasizing his creative self in contradictory functional
positions. In pursuing this aim he found himself getting away from traditional
concepts of established perspectives of volume, restricted functional
forms of physical performance, thus looking for and finding his way to
the permanent process of motion, changing forms of the body and unforeseeable
It is in his drawings and paintings that Matta succeeds in transforming items of corporeal existence and expanse or rather phenomena of volume into a continuous change of momentary items of transition. In this way the pictorial concept is transformed into a galaxy, an orbit of most differentiated transitory phenomena.
In the course of many decades it was the visionary character of Matta's space pictures that seems to have been generally accepted by conscientious contemporaries, if it is true that Matta is supposed to be "the painter of the star wars" (W.Schmied, 1981).
Matta as a sculptor and, respectively, a producer of plastic art has not got these possibilities. On the contrary, in this sector he appears to have been shown his limits. Any phenomenon in the plastic arts remains a piece of genuine reality within the dimensions of space, and its singularity is basically different from all the painted objects in their rich world of visual phenomena because of its singularity and essential unity, by its gravity and its restricted physical dimensions.
It seems that the title expresses some sort of provocative antithesis: CHAOSMOS, linking up two opposing ideas within the perspectives of abstract thinking, namely "chaos", meaning disorder and total lack of structure, and "cosmos", meaning order and solid structure, the universe as an orderly system, both concepts being playfully and surprisingly amalgamated as a matter of course. Universal chaos and universal order are meant to be reciprocally expressed in this sculpture. And even more: It is here that the rational principle of creating a synthesis of antithetical phenomena coincides with the pleasure that the surrealists have always taken in things happening by chance, thus giving pure chance the possibility of bringing out a surprising amalgamation of arbitrary and alien entities, an amalgamation that shows a tendency towards overflowing extravagance. As far as paintings are concerned this tendency may easily be complied with. In his sculptures, however, Matta has to confine himself intelligently in order to achieve comparable forms of expression.
The life- morphology of CHAOSMOS presents the viewer with a peculiar shape of polyp-like physical existence, the obvious hollowness of which forms a clear contrast to the rich variety of its surface.
It seems, indeed, that this sculpture consists of wall-like structures only, softly welling up in changing intervals, leaving a deep impression on the minds of the viewers by their openness and the lack thereof. Without any perseverance and with occasional focal points only, the outward structure of CHAOSMOS is being integrated into a big general flux. On the varying surface of the sculpture small spherical "parasites " are sitting haphazardly, as it were, being scattered all over it on the protruding parts of the sculptural forms, glimmering gold-coloured and looking at us as creatures with big faces. Compared with the big sculpture as a whole they appear to be much more concrete in shape and the way they look. They have been submitted to ornamental simplicity and to functionalism, their shape and expression being comparable so to speak with little leeches on a man's broad muscular back.
As a matter of fact this polyp-like sculpture bears human features, it has got an oversized face with a tremendously broad mouth above a tiny chest and yet smaller degenerated legs. This sculpture is lacking the characteristic features of the human body, it has no physical independence, no symmetrical form, structure, and proportion. It seems to be by accident yet with great emphasis that the very intensive "facial expression" has been given anthropomorphic features.
The sculptural combination of the different appearances of the human body remind the viewer of those senile faces of children in the pre-Columbian Olmec culture. The senile baby or the old man with the baby face are beyond the natural lapse of time and give way to the idea of the simultaneousness of passing away and being born. CHAOSMOS should be taken as a form of creation in a transitory sense. Not only does its generative element lie in the coming together of different bodies, but in the idea of the body as such with all its varying elements of a picture in the process of being created, a picture showing in an essential way both development and completed form.
The Viersen Collection of Sculptures has not presented any such generative
peace of art so far. Technical aspects have been predominant here within
the spectrum of architectural phenomena, of structure and balance and
their significance in the process of arriving at sculptural decisions.
Even the liquid forms of K.H.Hödicke's sculptures are based on the classic
motive of the statue and its elementally physical structure.
Matta's CHAOSMOS adds a morphological element of life to the collection, thus making the conditions of plastic arts a completely new topic. Corporal existence is being looked upon as a generative process. It is this new concept which the viewer becomes aware of, he realizes that sculptural imagination has something in common with the process of cell division, pointing rather at the genesis of cells, limbs and bodily forms than their final and irrevocable shapes. Nothing is definite here, nor is it the idea of "expression", the unspoilt quality of which is lying in the bio-morphological process of corporal formation in the proceedings of life that are both different from each other and crossing each other's ways in their development. They occur beyond or rather before the definite separation and differentiation that may be function and cause, the result or rather the consequence of various forms of action that can be differentiated, either inwardly or outwardly, in a symmetrical or constructive sense. In this respect the possibility of creating structural order is still part of an initial genesis developing from the nucleus so to speak.
This sculpture could be given twenty years of maturing until, at the beginning of the nineteen-nineties, it was finally cast in bronze. It is fascinating to see how Matta, the grand old man of surrealistic art, succeeds in finding a generative element in sculptural concepts that are completely new. He does so by dodging the dominating artistic rules of contemporary sculpture. CHAOSMOS will enrich the Viersen Sculpture Collection with an essential and genuine element of sculptural arts.
catal. raisonne Nr. S 70/10
Bronze, 180 x 92 x 38 cm
Year of origin: 1970