Exploring themes of decadence, chaos, and unconventional behavior, Tony Matelli continues his dispassionate, at times sarcastic dissection of gen-erally accepted norms, rules, and values.
Matelli’s vividly hyper-realistic works often turn the viewer into a casual witness to absurd scenes. As if caught off guard, the characters of untold stories experience the culmination of an unknown drama unfolding in the exhibition space and beyond. For his solo show artist has chosen three projects, the visual simplicity of which turns out to be deceptive, and the complex interweaving of subtle meanings behind these seemingly simple objects is formed into a radical artistic gesture.
“The Idiot” is a wall-mounted bronze sculpture imitating an empty Budweiser beer box. Someone made holes in the center of this old forgotten box, turning it into a birdhouse. The deceptive lightness of the sculpture, originally conceived as a street installation, and the inappropriateness of its location all emphasize the absurdity the happening: the birds live in the box, moving freely in the halls of the gallery and transforming the space around them into an immersive story.
“F#ck it, free yourself!” represents the idea of rejection of established and imposed material values. Made of porcelain and steel, two hundred-dollar bills continuously burn on the table, embodying the symbol of rebellion against the consumer society. Not absorbed by the flames of the fire, these bills at the same time reflect the power and immortality of such society on the scale of individual protest.
The “Weeds” is a continuation of artist’s famous series of hand-painted bronze sculptures. Hyperrealistic bronze plants “sprout” in the corners of the gallery, deconstructing the space of the white cube. They are a painful reminder of the fate and futility of existence, of the inevitability of death. But at the same time their vitality and invariably rebellious spirit give us hope, turn them into a symbol of struggle and heroic resistance to circum-stances.
“WEEDS ARE CONSTANTLY BEING ERADICATED BECAUSE THEY REMAIN AS NAGGING REMINDERS OF OUR FALLIBILITY AND VANITY. AT THE SAME TIME, THEY ARE HEROIC SYMBOLS. THEY’RE TRIUMPHANT, UNWANTED BUT VERY SUCCESS-FUL. THIS HAS INTENSE PERSONAL RESONANCE WITH ME. WEEDS ARE THE UNDERDOG” – TONY MATELLI.
In his work, Matelli is constantly engaged in an inner dialogue with himself and the viewer about what really matters and what does not, often prov-ing from his own experience that there are a few things in life that we should not, and simply cannot, control.
Toni Matelli’s work has been exhibited in leading galleries and museums around the world, including the Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna, Austria), Cen-tre D’Arte Santa Monica (Bercelona, Spain), Uppsala Kunstmuseum (Uppsala, Sweden), Palais de Tokio (Paris, France).