Book Signing: “A Grave Situation”–Painting Inspires Novel

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Screenshot 2014-05-27 12.11.45Friday, May 30th author/journalist/director Rodrigo Ribera D’Ebre signs his novel A Grave Situation at the Museum of Latin American Art. I’ll also be asking him questions about the novel, which is the deeply disturbing story of a woman whose grip on her psyche and ability to control her anti-social tendencies crumble as she commits escalating acts of violence.

The novel was inspired by Roberto Matta’s painting A Grave Situation. Matta was one of Chile’s best-known painters and a seminal figure in 20th century abstract expressionist and surrealist art, fitting since most of the book takes place in Chile and other parts of South and Central America.  Other influences include D’Ebre’s experiences as an English teacher in Chile and his travels through the southern hemisphere,  and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment–as well as a real murder. Narrated by the female anti-hero’s sister, A Grave Situation could be called “An American Psycho Abroad.”

While Matta’s painting was the primary visual inspiration, another important surrealist work, Moonlight, by Chilean painter Victor Castillo is the cover image.

Full disclosure: D’Ebre is directing the upcoming film, Dark Progressivism: On Rupture and Rebellion— and I am one of the film’s associate producers. Narrated with first-hand accounts by artists like Defer, Prime, Big Sleeps, Gajin Fujita, Germs, Saber, Daniel Gonzalez, UGLAR Works, Patrick Martinez, and others, this eye-opening documentary tells the story of a local nativist tradition in artwork through interviews with muralists, tattoo artists, graffiti writers, musicians, taggers, gang members, art historians, documentarians, and political figures, who help explain how the dark aspects of the environment combined with forward-thinking principles have influenced a local tradition, which has now gained many artists international recognition.

grave+situation Roberto Matta’s A Grave Situation. Author D’Ebre used the image as the inspiration for A Grave Situation, his misanthropic novel of a psychopathic teacher.

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