Frieze New York Online Viewing Room
Tony Matelli’s sculpture Figure 1 and 2 is a pair of hyper-realistic inverted nudes cast in fleshy silicone that is then painted and embedded with human hair. While the sculptures are inescapably evocative of an art-historical Adam and Eve, they are clearly contemporary and the artist intends them as a more generic couple with familiar struggles of isolation and disconnect. Still, the piece reminds us that the expulsion from Paradise is a perpetual and universal state, and points to the persistent romantic pessimism that is a persistent strain of the artist’s oeuvre. The physical inversion of the figures (as with Matelli’s well-known flipped flower arrangements) acts as a kind of emotional distress signal—a flag flown upside-down under siege. The work is a concise distillation of Matelli’s powerful blending of technical precision, existential psychology and a deep engagement with the history of sculpture.
Tony Matelli was born in 1971 in Chicago, Illinois, and received his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1995. Matelli has exhibited widely, mounting solo and group exhibitions at The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, MoMA PS1, The Davis Museum, Kunsthalle Wien, ILLUMInations at The Venice Biennale, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Palais de Tokyo, and The High Line. The artist lives and works in New York, NY.