KEWENIG presents 'Room #5' with works by New York artist Justin Matherly: two sculptures from his 2016-series ‘Untitled (Fear, Anxiety and Joy)’ and a print titled ‘I readjust my commitment to greater legibility, one’, 2011. The presentation is part of KEWENIG’s recent exhibition format ‘12 Rooms’, a monthly rotating artist programme in the enclosed room between the gallery and the adjacent building. Each month a new installation by a selected young artist will be on display.
Justin Matherly’s body of work is a contemporary interpretation of classical sculpture using modern materials such as concrete, plaster, polyurethane, foam, Treegator and adhesive. Mounted on ambulatory walkers – suggesting reinforcement, but also deterioration – Matherly’s sculptures, broken, scratched, porous, and smeared with paint, stand in stark contrast to the cosmic perfection and harmonious forms of their marble ancestors. The sculptural sophistication, however, stems from the artist’s highly laborious process-based casting technique and resourceful preliminary research.
The concrete sculptures casted in modified gypsum plaster on view in ‘Room #5’ are part of Matherly’s group of Greco-Roman deities staging Asclepius, god of medicine, and his son Telesphorus, demigod of convalescence. Both works are recastings of the torn molds of Asclepius and Telesphoros exhibited in 2016 in ‘The Quiescence of the Inorganic World‘ at Eva Presenhuber, Zurich. This idea of reincarnation (metempsychosis) recalls Nietzsche’s theory of eternal recurrence – serving Matherly as the conceptual foundation for a number of consecutive works.
The title of the inkjet monoprint refers to a quote by the director Pier Paolo Pasolini stating "Even the "reality" of innocent bodies has been violated, manipulated, enslaved by consumerist power […]. The collapse of the present implies the collapse of the past. Life is a heap of insignificant and ironical ruins... I readjust my commitment to a greater legibility (Saló?*)“ – capturing once again Nietzsche’s cyclical understanding of time. Whether Matherly’s imagery of a Greco-Roman bust is to be understood against Pasolini’s semiotics of death and sadism in the shade of facist Italy of 1943-44 or against Marquis de Sade’s sadomasochistic story of wealthy male libertines, are just a few of many questions aroused by the cryptic title. On a technical level, again the work consists of several layers. Like his sculptural work, Matherly’s printing method is based on removal and breakdown: a section of the original image is printed on a wet transparency in a process of transferring separate layers of CMYK colours on paper.
Justin Matherly (born 1972 in West Islip, NY, lives and works in New York) studied at the University of Pennsylvania and at Hunter College in New York. In 2017 his sculpture ‘Nietzsche's Rock’ was part of the Skulptur Projekte in Munster. His work has been shown internationally in group exhibitions: Artists and Poets, secession, Vienna (2015); Vom Großen und Ganzen, Sammlung Haus N, Neumünster (2015); The Camera's Blind Spot, ExtraCity Kunsthal, Antwerp (2015), Stars + Stripes: American Art of the 21st Century from the Goldberg Collection, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Bathurst, Australia (2014); A Triple Tour: Oeuvres de la Collection Pinault in La Conciergerie, Paris (2013); Common Ground, Public Art Fund in City Hall Park, New York (2012), among others. Matherly had solo exhibitions with Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, and König Galerie, Berlin.