The Disasters of Mysticism (1942) by Roberto MattaMALBA – Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires
Roberto Matta painted The Disasters of Mysticism in 1942, in New York, where he had been living since 1939.
There, he joined a group of artists who had escaped from war
The group included major figures— such as André Breton, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy, Man Ray, and André Masson—all of them part of surrealism, the most thriving and dynamic movement of the European avant-garde.
This painting belongs to a series of works created between 1942 and 1944, where space is outlined through a combination of dark backgrounds and glowing and phosphorescent shapes, perhaps evocative of the cosmos or the deep sea.
On the right side, depth is suggested by vanishing lines projected out from two central shapes which, at the same time, concentrate and extend them all over.
However, on the left, a dynamical chaos of flame-like shapes is prevalent.
This cosmic landscape is closely linked to Matta’s mystical musings stemmed from his interest in magic, Kabbalah, and tarot, which the artist developed throughout the years spent in Paris.
His readings of Russian theosophist Peter D. Ouspensky’s ideas on the fourth dimension are very present in a significant part of his production.