Exhibition: Tony Matelli: New Gravity

On View: February 6 - July 20, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014 - 12:00pm
Location: Gerald and Marjorie Schechter Bronfman Gallery, Chandler Gallery, Harold and Estelle Newman Tanner Gallery

New Gravity, on view at the Davis through July 20, is Tony Matelli's first solo exhibition at a U.S. museum. Comprised of recent works from the past five years as well as new works created specifically for the Davis, the exhibition focuses on the artist’s discursive use of time, ambivalence, banality and wonder. In Matelli’s work the physical laws of objects are often reversed, upended or atomized, and with these deft manipulations of matter and gravity come profound reorientations in perspective and ways of seeing. Matelli creates a distortion field of sorts, a lens through which to question one reality and create another.

Installed in two parts at the Davis, the exhibition also sites two sculptures (Sleep Walker and Stray Dog) outdoors on campus. Tony Matelli: New Gravity will be on view February 5 - May 11, in the Bronfman & Chandler Galleries; and February 5 - July 20 in the Jobson & Tanner Galleries. The exhibition is free and open to the general public.

“Tony Matelli is a trader in combinatory illusions, a skilled manipulator of the restless mediation between metaphor, meaning and truth,“ said Lisa Fischman, Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis and curator of the exhibition. “His works are persistently surprising, inventive, powerful and playful – evoking complex sensations and inviting multiple viewings. We are delighted to present his first U.S. museum exhibition at the Davis and to introduce New England audiences to his work.”

Often employing a hyper-realistic idiom, Matelli’s work challenges our perceptions of reality. His sculptures create a disconcerting tension between uneasiness and humor, frequently suspending time and belief. Matelli imbues his art with layers of familiarity and discomfort, employing remarkable skill and technique to create works that ask us to take a critical look at ourselves and at the culture around us.

“There is a romantic impulse in my work, that strives to give form to my emotions and thoughts and the way I see the world,” commented Matelli. “I’m fascinated with that moment when you become aware of a perceptual shift in your environment, so what was a seemingly real-life experience becomes a complicated art experience. That approach to art is really powerful. It makes everything else seem like a prop that only pointed to an idea. The precision of praxis has a great impact on me, and my work operates in that spirit.”

Tony Matelli’s work is in numerous private and public collections including the Cranbrook Art Museum; FLAG Art Foundation; ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum; the National Centre of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Fundacion La Caixa, Madrid; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and the Uppsala Konstmuseum, Sweden. Recent solo exhibitions have been presented at the Künstlerhaus 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. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, and is represented by Marlborough Chelsea, New York and Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm.

Curated by Lisa Fischman, Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis, Tony Matelli: New Gravity and the accompanying catalogue, designed by the artist with Conny Purtill, are generously supported by Wellesley College Friends of Art and the Anonymous ’70 Endowed Davis Museum Program Fund.


Please also join us for Tony Matelli: Artist’s Picks filming screenings, a series of four films selected by the artist to coincide with his exhibition. Following each, Cinema and Media Studies faculty will discuss the artist’s selections—and the intriguing notes he has provided on his choices (below)!

2001: A Space Odyssey

(1968, Dir. Stanley Kubrick) | February 12 | 6:00 p.m. | Collins Cinema

“The promise and potential of us evolving beyond our own biology gives me great pleasure. From the dawn of man, base and physical, toward the abstract and pure essence of ourselves. Terrifying. Inspiring.”

Matelli joins the post-film discussion for this event.

The Passenger

(1975, Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni) | March 12 | 6:00 p.m. | Collins Cinema

“The weight of my obligations is overwhelming. The inertia of my character has become unbearable. Everything feels like a dead end. I want out. New friends, new family, new morals. I want to become someone else.”


(2010, Dir. Christopher Nolan) | April 2 | 6:00 p.m. | Collins Cinema

“Ontological magical realism, I think about this a lot.”

Dillinger Is Dead

(1969, Dir. Marco Ferreri) | April 30 | 6:00 p.m. | Collins Cinema

“The girlfriend is a bore. Every day is like the last. My general privilege has me sleepwalking toward a shallower and shallower horizon. I could really use a clean break.”

Matelli joins the post-film discussion for this event.

Co-sponsored by the Davis and the Wellesley College Cinema and Media Studies Program, this series is generously supported by the Davis Museum Film Program Gift.