Artist Tony Matelli offers dynamic range with a body of work that will surprise just about anyone. The art varies from delicate harmony to lewd humor and even severe revulsion.
Most of Matelli’s art seems to defy gravity with people, objects, and plants often positioned in midair. The more discreet work fills the viewer with a sense of poise and grace. A black line curves through the air like a piece of twine suspended from the ceiling. The shape of the lines and the unique space they create resembles a figure, a plastic bag or a cape that glides across the floor depending on the angle you view it. From a distance, the rope appears to hang freely from the ceiling. On a closer look, the piece proves to be a sculpture made with painted bronze, frozen still and self-supported.
Other works by Matelli feature a strikingly different theme. He creates a self-portrait with vegetables that at first appear to be carefully glued together. Yet, the work is made entirely out of painted bronze, sculpted to match the intricate details of many different veggies. Each face looks goofy or awkward with large glasses and a long nose. For every “Fresh” sculpture there is a matching “Rotten” sculpture where the same figure becomes dilapidated and dies. Double Veg Man (Fresh) shows a thin tall man made with asparagus and celery and a baby pickle for a dick. The figure stares down at his penis with confusion and disappointment.
Another piece by Matelli takes us on a new path. Fucked (Couple) shows a pair of young lovers in a precarious situation, as the title suggests. Despite each missing a limb, they manage to hold hands as the remains of a grand piano balance on top of their heads. Scissors, swords, and a shovel poke out of their skin. Half naked, it looks as if the doomed couple were trying to run away and escape their ultimate death. The piece feels shocking and grotesque, but displays the remarkable skill of a craftsman. The details in the wounded figures are so realistic; it becomes impossible to look away.
Tony Matelli was born in Chicago, Illinois. He lives and works in New York, New York.
(Photos Courtesy of Tony Matelli.)White
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