I see myself less as a sculptor than as an image maker

The Art Newspaper
Paris. On that April day when we are talking on the phone, Tony Matelli works alone in his New York studio, where he is usually surrounded by six assistants. On March 19, his exhibition in Paris did not open. Rue Sainte-Anastase (3e) is deserted, like the rest of the city. In front of the window, a weed sprouted, a strange invitation to look through the closed gate at the exhibition whose installation had just ended. In "Abandon", a title chosen long before the health crisis erupted, Tony Matelli presents new Weeds in bronze, belonging to the series he started in 1995.

Life and death mixed
"In a sense, this is a perfectly adapted morbid moment ... Obviously, we had not foreseen the concomitance of the exposure with the epidemic, but the poetry is there", he says about these herbs which carry life and death, mixed together. "This work is not supposed to be as theatrical as it probably is, but a certain theatricality emerges, nonetheless. The narrative aspect, which consists of looking in the closed gallery, is now part of the work. I even imagined that the light would stay on all night, but it was obviously a bad idea! A few years ago, I showed the Weeds behind a sealed window in one of the side galleries of the Whitney Museum of American Art. "

Tony Matelli started his Weeds series when he had just set up his studio in New York. In 2000, he began to make them in bronze, and it was at State University of New York in Buffalo that he first showed a set. “At the beginning, I made them out of paper and wire. The following ones were made of plastic, they were beautiful, but not very durable or very precise. They lacked a kind of objecthood. I collect plants, mold each strand, polish and paint them, then assemble them, with my assistants who have worked with me for a long time. In bronze, it became more substantial, more spectacular. Bronze is what it is. They are all unique pieces resulting from a different assembly. "

"The first Weed conveyed political ideas that I had at the time: my position behind the art world in particular, the feeling of a certain disconnection. "


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