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Matthew Marello: Ice Box , Athens, Greece
Els Hanappe

Matthew Marello, i married a gallerist from outer space, 1997, Poster Installation, 40 x 26

The Modernist movements prove a living nightmare for the contemporary artist as presented in Matt Marello's poster night of the living modernists. Their increasing popularity, as witnessed by the success of blockbuster exhibitions and the thriving industry that surrounds them, loom large over the Postmodernist era. Nostalgia for these clean-cut monolithic movements accentuate the confusing disparate images of the present day. When the artist portrays himself as a latter-day King Kong in the amazing colossal minimalist, does he portray the image of Modernism or his own desire brought to life in order to crush the modern heritage?

The use of vibrant colors and sloganesque titles is borrowed from '50s and '60s cinema horror movie posters. In i was a teenage abstract expressionist, the artist, with the shadow of terror on his face, stares out at

the viewer like a maniac who just revealed his deepest, darkest secret. The inset shows the artist, carried by another man, ready to be sacrificed on the altar of his belief. The subtitle shouts out "Body of a Boy! Mind of an Artist! Soul of an Unearthly Thing!"

Criticism is not confined to Modernism only, but includes the art world, as in i married a gallerist from outer space, in which the artist, dressed up as a bride, cries out hysterically at the sight of wall shadows that creep up on him. Similar images can be found in the video coming soon, in which he presents trailers or previews based on previous genre examples. The threatening tone and pulsing sound, combined with alternate flashes of text and image, build up the suspense. The artist acts as the hero, the villain, the monster.

Matt Marello's humorous renderings pay homage to the lightness of being that was so ironically captured by pop art in its use of popular culture. While acting out against the giants of Modernism, the contemporary artist intrinsically makes part of its heritage. Posters were one of the favored techniques used by the avant-garde and not in the least by the Russian Constructivists who thus believed within a Marxist context to make art more accessible to the people. In more recent times it was picked up again by feminist artist Barbara Kruger who shouts across her message in a similar catchy way. Matt Marello's aim is not so much to reach common man or woman as to represent him or her in a medium that is high on stars but low on democratic participation, leaving it to the public to play the role of the apathetic distant viewer.

Els Hanappe

Athens, Greece

1997

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