As one of the pre-eminent Surrealists in the late 1930's and early 1940's, Matta conducted numerous psychological explorations, pursued free drawing exercises, played mind games and participated in the experiments conducted by his peers. Although he broke away from the group in the late 1940's he continued and even delved further into his true fascination with science and the cosmos. Not only did the inner workings of the mind fascinate him but also the science of the universe and the human relationship to the indefinable forces of space and nature. Perhaps more than any other artist of his generation Matta used his canvas to explore the subconscious and the many different realms of the physical and mythic world. In these cosmic explorations color plays an important role in defining boundaries and creating spatial relationships that illustrate emotional and sexual tension while often employing amorphous shapes.
In the 1950's Matta began to incorporate more strident tones into his otherwise mineral-based colors schemes for which his earlier work is known. He also produced pieces with more definable forms, what had been previously been quite abstract or oblique was now brought into clearer focus. In The Tender Loin the sexual undercurrent that so often gives structural weight to more abstract pictures is here brought to the forefront of the image. The amorphous morphological bodies of the 1940's give way to angular mechanised beings --the modern age invades his work and again provides Matta with an avenue of exploration. Organisms, like machines, have structures and it is through the juxtaposition of the organic with the manufactured that Matta revealed the fears of a machine populated and soulless future, in which the robotic would replace the organic. The changes in his work must be viewed within the context and as a reaction to the chaotic and violent aspects of the 1940's. These important works from the early 1950's illustrate the anxieties that existed beneath the fervent optimism of the decade and would ultimately lead to the societal ruptures of the 1960's.