Tony Matelli is a sculptor who uses figurative, botanical and abstract forms to create objects that are simultaneously humorous and uncanny. He is renowned for his manipulation of hyperreal figures and objects in jarring contexts, and perhaps best known for his work Sleepwalker 2014, a life-size sculpture of a sleeping man in his underwear installed on the High Line in New York.
For NGV Triennial the Gallery has commissioned Hera (bronze) 2020, a bronze rendition of the Greek goddess Hera, in the style of a classical monument of the Queen of the Gods. This singular, larger-than-life-size outdoor figurative sculpture is an extension of Matelli’s Garden Sculptures series, initiated in 2015.
Appearing to be an original marble Greco-Roman sculpture in a state of deterioration, the artist has juxtaposed this with flawless rendered watermelons (also cast from bronze and handpainted) that balance upon her head, within the creases and folds of her drapery, and at her feet. These faux-perishables, poised upon the intentionally eroded and debased figure, are presented in an eternal state of freshness. In doing so, Matelli stages opposing entropic forces, the synthetically preserved, and the forcibly decayed.
Tony Matelli was born in Chicago and received his Bachelor of Fine Art from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 1993 and his Master of Fine Art from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1995. Since graduating from his undergraduate degree, he has participated in regular group exhibitions and 52 solo exhibitions. This includes exhibitions at the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia; the Davis Museum, Massachusetts; Künsterlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. A mid-career survey, Tony Matelli: A Human Echo, premiered at the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark in 2012 and travelled to the Bergen Kunstmuseum, Norway in 2013. Matelli’s work is held in numerous public collections around the world including the FLAG Art Foundation, New York; ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark; and the National Centre of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia.
The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Champions Barry Janes & Paul Cross for their support.
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