Spotlight 2: Tony Matelli
Alone Gallery is pleased to present a tightly focused solo exhibition by the celebrated hyperrealist artist Tony Matelli, featuring an important figurative sculpture and a series of wall-mounted mirror interventions. The artist continues to explore, with exacting precision, his favored themes of dislocation and existential limitation, along with an attendant reactive impulse for desecration.
At the center is Josh (2010), a casually dressed, supine male figure who is achieving a sort of transcendental lift-off—a regular guy achieving rapturous release from the bonds of gravity. Matelli achieves his own mode of transcendence through extraordinary engineering and craftsmanship. He uses realism as a powerful tool to short-circuit our expectations and open a viewer up to the deeper implications of an otherwise ordinary object or being.
While a search for meaning and escape can give us all hope, there is also a built-in frustration implied. How far can we get? Why is it so difficult to achieve a state of grace, a path to wisdom or true freedom? The artist is aware that most of us are reduced to reacting with base petulance and the mirror works, quite literally, reflect this. Built up through fixed layers of pigmented (and astonishingly dust-like) urethane, these gestural pieces enact a painterly expression of knee-jerk frustration and transgression. From the expected smiley faces and vulgarities, to swirling freeform lines, the mirrors form a chapel of ambivalence around the risen figure.
Taken together, these works telegraph Matelli’s commitment to art historical modes of sculpture, architecture and a manifestation of the spirit. But, when combined with his cutting-edge fabrication and contemporizing subjects, he creates a friction that is very much felt in our present moment.
Tony Matelli (b. 1971, Chicago, IL) is an American artist best known for his hyperreal depictions of figures in various forms of displacement, distress, and transformation. Focusing on themes of time, ambivalence, banality and wonder, Matelli’s work often manipulates the physical laws of objects—reversing, upending, atomizing and pausing in stasis, deftly manipulating matter and gravity—resulting in profound reorientations in perspective and, ultimately, states of being.
Matelli received his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1995. He has had over 40 solo exhibitions including the Davis Museum, The State Hermitage Museum, and a mid-career survey at ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark. His work is in numerous public collections that include the Davis Museum, MA; Cranbrook Art Museum, MI; FLAG Art Foundation, NY; ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus Denmark; the National Centre of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia; The Cultural Foundation Ekaterina, Moscow, Russia; Fundacion La Caixa Madrid, Spain; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Uppsala Konstmuseum, Uppsala, Sweden; Musee d’arte Contemporain Montreal, Canada; Bergen Kunstmuseum, Bergen, Denmark. The artist lives and works in New York City.
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