new-york

Justin Matherly, Handbook of inner culture for external barbarians (we nah beg no friend), 2013, concrete, ambulatory equipment, 10' 1“ x 24' 7” x 3' 9".

Justin Matherly

Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

Justin Matherly, Handbook of inner culture for external barbarians (we nah beg no friend), 2013, concrete, ambulatory equipment, 10' 1“ x 24' 7” x 3' 9".

The centerpiece of Justin Matherly’s exhibition “All industrious people” was a twenty-five-foot-long concrete sculpture modeled after several ancient stelae discovered in Turkey. Archival photographs of the rock-strewn site, thought to be the tomb of the Hellenistic king Antiochus I, appeared in large monoprints that lined the surrounding walls. It’s hardly surprising to find Matherly directly referencing archaeological digs, since for several years he has been excavating a singular ruin: sculpture itself.

The same argument runs through each of Matherly’s pieces: Painting is periodically eulogized, but at least it gets a decent burial. Meanwhile, sculpture grows decrepit, and suffers from neglect. Whether you blame its decline on overgrowth in the expanded field or a discursive drift toward “installation” and “mixed media,” there’s ample indication of sculpture’s faltering grasp

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