Readjusting my commitment to a greater legibility, or substance thinking and substance extended

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© Courtesy of the artist & Bureau
Readjusting my commitment to a greater legibility, or substance thinking and substance extended

178 Norfolk Street
10002 New York
October 30th, 2011 - December 18th, 2011
Opening: October 30th, 2011 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Wed-Sun 11-6
prints, sculpture


Bureau is pleased to announce a solo show by Justin Matherly featuring new largescale
sculpture and monoprint work. The exhibition will run from October 30 through
December 18 at 127 Henry Street, between Rutgers and Pike streets, in the Lower East
Justin Matherly has become recognized for his sculptures utilizing the ubiquitous
materials of concrete and metal ambulatory devices such as walkers and medical
stools. The exhibition will feature new cast concrete statues as well as
sumptuous new monoprints and shows the artist delving, sculpturally, into modern
interpretations of classicism and its decay.
A large sculpture based on the much-weathered Pasquino from Rome is the central
work in the show surrounded by smaller pieces based on the three existing versions
for the missing right arm of the Vatican’s Laocoön. As with his interest in the
Belvedere Torso, his chosen sources are celebrated examples of the apex of Greek
idealism and a virtuosic dynamism. However, without filling the blanks of what these
original forms depicted, the modern viewer is left with an intensely mutilated and
degraded form; in many cases we are left with decapitated, amputated bodies.
Providing a sturdy support for concrete sculpture, the walker base also suggests
the inevitable decay of our own bodies; however Matherly also points to a potential
liberation via the mechanical prosthesis. Invoking a scene from Dziga Vertov’s The
Man with a Movie Camera when speaking of his own work, Matherly describes the moment
when the camera – on its own crutch-like tripod legs – walks into the picture and
has a look around for itself. The potential for the modern subject to embrace its
own viewpoint, and to find an exalted liberty in its own bondage and limits can be
seen in Matherly’s work.
The sculptures are methodically built up from sculpted foam postivies which are
then cast with PVC tree-watering sacks called gator bags and, more recently, foam
and rubber negatives for fine detailing. After pouring the concrete a subtractive
process occurs in a kind of unearthing of the new sculpture. While Matherly’s hand
is remarkably skilled, he shows a desire to yield to the materiality, viscosity
and heft of his medium. Similarly, with his monoprint work there is a building up:
of subject matter, filters, textures and color-separated coats of printed ink. More
recently Matherly has introduced a subtractive processes into the works on paper
as well: layering motifs of abstract shapes beneath found imagery from classical
ruins. The ghostly forms of high modernism cast a faint day-glow shadow across vast
photographic scenes of crumbled empires.
Justin Matherly (b. 1972, West Islip, NY) lives and works in Brooklyn. He received
his BA in 2002 from the Univ. of Pennsylvania while studying at the Pennsylvania
Academy of the Fine Arts and received his MFA from Hunter College in 2007. This
is the artist’s third show at this location, having exhibited twice with Dispatch
in 2007 and 2009. He has exhibited widely in New York at the Sculpture Center’s
In Practice Projects, Bob Nickas’s 2010 White Columns Annual, Team Gallery, Paula
Cooper Gallery and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York. He has an upcoming project
with the Public Art Fund for 2012 in Manhattan.