The Hunter, 2002
Borrowing the techniques of the natural history diorama, storefront display and hyperrealist sculpture, Tony Matelli crafts a vivid approximation of the world, familiar in anecdotal detail, yet with something conspicuously awry. His lifelike figures parody human nature in its fallibility and contradictions, a theme that first emerged in poignant cast-resin vignettes portraying gestures of desperation and affection created while a student at Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Matelli explores this existential frontier with an increasingly acerbic viewpoint in The Hunter, one of a trio of self-portrait caricatures from his provocative Sexual Sunrise series. In this absurd tableau, a man dressed flimsily in a red union suit gazes at the horizon in awkward anticipation, sniffing out his next conquest. With only a rope in hand, the myopic urban nerd seems ill-equipped to prevail in the backwoods far from the conveniences and rule of civilization. With this hapless swashbuckler, Matelli cleverly lampoons his, and our, ineptness in an alienating environment, allegorizing a very real postmodern cultural dysfunction with his disarming sculptural burlesque.
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