The Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to present new works by Justin Matherly, which will be on view from March 23 through April 27 at 521 W 21st Street. This will be the artist's first one-person exhibition with the gallery.
Matherly will exhibit sculptures and monoprints based on stelae from Nemrud Dagi, an excavated temple-tomb complex in Turkey dedicated to the late Hellenistic king Antiochus I of Commagene. Stelae are carved stone reliefs that were used for commemorative purposes; in the Ancient Near East, they often established a ruler's legitimacy by linking him to a particular divinity or sacred event.
Using the poured concrete and ambulatory equipment that have characterized his sculpture up to now, Matherly revisits and reimagines Antiochus's stelae, focusing particularly on the hand clasp gesture (known as "dexiosis") that recurs throughout this ancient site. The motif was meant to convey the king's deification through handshake as he passes to the afterworld and is welcomed into the community of gods.
The works on view expand on Matherly's continued refashioning of classical Greek and Roman statuary as well as probe issues of political legitimacy and the representations of power that have a particular resonance today.