Hera here to stay! Aldrich extends 'Watermelon sculpture' through Jan. 1

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum has announced that the exhibition of Tony Matelli’s Hera has been extended through Jan. 1, 2018. This monumental sculpture is part of the Main Street Sculpture series, an opportunity for artists to create site-specific work for The Aldrich’s most public site, the front lawn.

This work is an extension of the artist’s Garden Sculptures series, initiated in 2015, in which he defaces garden statuary of classical or religious icons and subverts material expectation. Based on an ancient Greek statue of Hera and poised atop a pedestal, the statue, fabricated out of cast stone, is painstakingly aged to mimic a centuries old patina. An imposing nine-feet tall and sited on a three-foot tall pedestal, the neo-classical figure is juxtaposed with flawlessly hand-painted cast bronze watermelons, whole, halved and quartered, 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.

Spanning sculpture and painting, Matelli’s hyperreal practice embodies the human condition. Suspended in changing physical states or transformative stages of existence, his work concerns the very circumstance of actuality, joining the ordinary with the speculative in order to assess cultural worth: what people keep or abandon, what appears to be in or out of place, and what seems pleasing or distasteful. Often provocative and hallucinatory, Matelli’s work expresses excess, neglect, decomposition, and regeneration, the upturned and the adrift, the romantic and the surreal. At The Aldrich, Matelli’s colossal sculpture of a familiar mythological figure may read as a modern memento mori, or as a devotional offering to a saccharine present, cast against a corrosive past. Ridgefield, a Revolutionary-era Colonial town with a landmarked Main Street, is a befitting location for this tragicomic siting, as Matelli’s ancient giant testifies to history as theatrical backdrop.

Tony Matelli (b. 1971, Chicago) received his bachelor of fine art from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 1993 and his master of fine arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1995. Recent solo exhibitions include the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia; the Davis Museum, Mass.; 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 traveled to the Bergen Kunstmuseum, Norway in 2013. His work is in numerous public collections including the FLAG Art Foundation, N.Y.; ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark and the National Centre of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia, among others. He lives and works in New York City.