“All of my sculptures are in a state of compromise. They are lost, wounded and tangled. This is everyone’s general state at one point or another. It certainly has been mine. These things need to be talked about simply.” – Tony Matelli
Tony Matelli is an American sculptor famous for his hyperrealist works that reflect the subtle and ever-elusive combination of concept and contem-porary technology.
Each of Matelli’s works embodies the artist’s sarcastic pessimism, laced with humor and vitality – his personal experience of living his most vivid emotional states. United by his ironic attitude to himself and to the absurdity of everyday life, Matelli’s works are simultaneously complex, joyful and tragic, just like the emotions and conflicts that inspire the artist.
Tony Matelli’s exhibition includes four of his major works: “Old Enemy, New Victim”, “F#cked Couple”, “Sleepwalker”, and “Double Meat Head”. These works span the range of Matelli’s conceptual interests and technical virtuosity, demonstrating his worldview as a constant field of struggle, decay, and hope.
“Old Enemy, New Victim” shows a scene of violence completed with dark comicism, where a large monkey is torn to pieces and attacked by two predatory beasts. The impulse behind the work clearly carries a reference to the work by La Fontaine. The hyper-realistic precision in using silicone and wool to create animal imagery is a result of the skills Matelli acquired at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan and at Jeff Koons’ studio, where the artist worked for a time as an assistant.
In the female version of the famous “Sleepwalker”, a vivid emotional effect brought on by the realistic nature of the work is followed by an artist’s reflection on an ethical paradox, which he calls “issues of modesty and Victorian ideas people have about the human body”. Why did the nude male Sleepwalker in his time provoke a wave of mass rejection and anger, while the naked female version did not? In addition to visual acceptance, Matelli questions the modern social patterns: how in our day the naked male figure can bring terror, when the woman in her most natural appearance became an image of victimhood and insecurity?
‘“Love” is such an old and, in some ways, clichéd idea, so I needed to find a way for it to feel fresh and relevant,’ – Tony Matelli. In the “F#ucked Couple” sculpture two figures are impaled, almost destroyed and suffering all kinds of absurd trauma, yet they still manage to move forward. Only their joined hands remain untouched by violence – this pure and desperate embrace represents the power of mutual love and affection, in spite of all the tribulations of the outer world.