There is something inherently subversive about Tony Matelli’s bronze sculptures of leafy green weeds, which sprout from the cracks and corners of former Cliff House. Playful and unsettling, these works mine the tension between reality and artifice, elevating the prosaic and unwanted, warts and all—twigs are bent, leaves are blemished and discolored—while asking us to question how we assign value. An overgrowth of weeds can indicate neglect, abandonment; as unwanted intruders in our paved sidewalks, monoculture farmlands, and manicured gardens, they bring natural disorder to the orderliness of human life. In a tightly controlled exhibition space, the sight of these unruly botanical protrusions undermines our expectations entirely. These humble plants also symbolize, across cultures, resilience in the unlikeliest of circumstances. In the context of Lands End, Matelli’s sculptures suggest nature’s reclaiming of manmade space, offering hope that, despite our best efforts in undermining its survival, nature finds ways to flourish.
Weed #414, 2018; painted bronze; courtesy of the McEvoy Family Collection, San Francisco
Incorporating figurative, botanical, and abstract forms, Tony Matelli creates hyperreal objects that are both disconcerting and comical. His work has been exhibited around the world, is the subject of 13 publications, and has been collected by institutions including the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, and Mudam Luxembourg.