(American, born 1971)
Abandon Weed, 2008
bronze sculpture with vinyl paint, 13 x 25 1/2 x 10 inches
Artwork courtesy of the Artist
Brooklyn-based artist Tony Matelli creates lifelike sculptures with an ironic twist. Abandon is an ongoing series by the artist constituting a wide variety of weeds crafted in bronze and carefully painted to resemble the real thing. When viewed singularly in a random location inside a building, sculptures such as this dandelion become poignant symbols of displacement. When Matelli clusters these weeds throughout empty museum spaces, they can also serve as sly commentaries on the neglect or decay of our cultural institutions. Matelli first began making these weeds, each completely unique, when he moved to New York to begin his career as an artist. An outsider to his new home, he identified with the lowly plants, which against all odds cling to life in the most inhospitable environments. In this sense, he considers the weeds to be a kind of self-portraiture. Matelli also creates hyperreal vignettes of animals, people, and a multitude of inanimate objects, which, like his weeds, also lead us to consider our own flawed and vulnerable nature.
Humor is a good way to disarm someone. It seems to me that humor works so quickly and so immediately that you can really quickly get someone on their heels and get them to experience the work in a realer way or in a different way that isn’t just intellectual, that isn’t just an art experience, isn’t just a rarified, you know, ”I’m looking at art and it is solemn and serious.”
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