This work is sold with a certificate of authenticity signed by Germana Matta Ferrari and dated 8 October, 2012.
A key figure in the history of modern art, Matta and his work represent a high point in the global development of Surrealism. Taken as a whole, his body of work along with the high estimation of many of his colleagues supports his legacy as a major artist with an expansive scope and an impressive depth of ideas. Matta was deeply inspired by the writings of Freud, and was interested in dream interpretation and in the possibility of recording the workings of the subconscious mind. Among Matta's many obsessions was the relationship between machines or other indefinable beings and humans. At the request of Breton, in 1938, he described some of his interests and defined his work as an exploration of Euclidian space, transformation of objects, interpenetrations of volumes and moments, attraction and repulsion and past and future relationships.
Throughout Matta's production, we see chaotic scenes that evoke visions of humans becoming machines and vice versa. This painting from 1944 is unusual in that it depicts a single figure, which was more commonly seen in his drawings. It is elongated, attenuated, and alone. Though most of his paintings feature intense atmospheres and expansive backgrounds, in this case there is little evidence of an environment other than a gaping hole at the far left. The form of the canvas and the manner in which the figure fills it creates a sense of claustrophobic encapsulation. Reminiscent of a burial casket, the tight rectangle envelopes the semi-mechanized human figure as though ushering it into the next world.
Perhaps the most disturbing element of the image is the claw-like bracket that encloses the reproductive area of the figure's body. Though the title refers to a feminine foundation garment, the image implies something entirely different and much more ominous. Lying prone on her back, the figure's legs bend and disappear into the void at left. The feelings exuded by her wide open mouth are impossible to define. Is she cringing and resigned or elated? The top of her head appears sliced open, as though she may be a robot in mid-assembly or a human undergoing some mysterious procedure. Her hand holds a single white egg, perhaps fertilized, being readied for placement into her reproductive "cage." In the end she is reduced to head, breasts, torso, and legs as the pointed contraption overwhelms her reproductive capacity. In this figure, the future is endlessly tied--enslaved, even--to this crossbred being that will continue to bear figures in its twisted likeness.
Matta's ideas about transformation, collisions of time and space, interpenetrations between beings and objects are all alluded to here. The artificial world and the natural world collide, as do primitive and futuristic entities. The enigmatic nature of the figure's expression and the languid way in which her hand surrounds the egg provoke questions about the narrative suggested by her form, her curious environment, and the mysteries of the future.
Rocío Aranda Alvarado, curator, El Museo del Barrio, New York