Roberto Matta’s Les Oh! Tomobiles


exhibition Details

The artist doesn’t pretend to offer a solution for everyone’s problems. He expresses his way of confronting problems with society and he invites others to confront and resolve their own, always with optimism, but more importantly with a sense of humour. The artist must have more of this than anyone else. – Roberto Matta

In 1975 a suite of 10 etchings, Les Oh! Tomobiles, made by celebrated Chilean artist Roberto Matta was shown at the Barrington Gallery in Britomart, Auckland. Ernest Smith, then director at Auckland City Art Gallery, was keen to improve the Gallery’s Surrealism collection and quickly moved to acquire the works. Les Oh! Tomobiles was one of the first works by a South American artist purchased by the Gallery. Smith noted at the time that ‘Matta’s lively and comic imagery records his observations and effects of 'Mobilisation on the human condition’, and that the quality of the works was undeniable: printed on Arches paper in the studio of Georges Visat in Paris in 1971, an edition of only 100, and each signed and numbered by the artist. The Les Oh! Tomobiles etchings were swiftly put on display at Auckland City Art Gallery in July 1975, the same month they were purchased. Just 18 months later, in January 1977, they were shown in Auckland in their entirety again but have not been displayed since then, until now. Ernest Smith’s attraction to the Matta works now seems prescient with editions of Les Oh! Tomobiles found worldwide in collections such as the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California. 

Curated by
Catherine Hammond and Caroline McBride
Research Library Display Case
Free entry

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