“Worldly and Nude, Freedom Against Oppression” at the Museo Reina Sofia

The Reina Sofia is Madrid’s modern art museum, with works by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, and George Braque, among many others. One of its current exhibits relates stories of the murderous oppression in Latin America during the past 100 years. You can read more about the exhibit here. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/jun/16/madrid-reina-sofia-latin-america-artistic-boom-enemies-of-poetry This painting by Roberto Matta appears to depict relief from the trauma of war by placing its ambiguous characters in a field of appealing colors, with a sense of balance and what appears to be a spot of sun. The painting is certainly a reference to Picasso’s “Guernica,” on display a few rooms away, which portrays only tragedy. You can read more about what inspired “Guernica” here. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/history-magazine/article/pablo-picasso-guernica-painting-history

As I walked through the exhibit’s very graphic depictions of people fighting for human rights, I felt sad and exposed because, to some degree, the US sponsored almost all of the violence in Latin America during the 20th century. I loved Matta’s painting because it left me with a feeling of hope.


  1. Well, I have to be honest. I’m not a big fan of this piece. I find the tranquil aquamarine backdrop to be completely jarring in the context of the horrors referenced and depicted.

    That said, I have also been selected on numerous occasions as The World’s Worst Art Critic.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Kim. I’m not familiar with the work of this artist. Unfortunately, I see no signs of hope in this painting, only conflict, disharmony, and the pulling apart on the female body in the middle forefront.

    1. Rosaliene, I am so confused by that painting! I have gone back and forth about whether it’s hopeful or traumatic. I can’t find anything online about it but it seemed more hopeful when I compared it to Guernica. I think you and Vic are right! Perhaps I was taken in by the pleasing colors and the spot of light. I guess this is the measure of good art — it challenges our thinking.

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