Expressive, gestural, dramatic, and beautiful are but a few words to describe the internationally renowned sculptures by Matteo Pugliese, who is poised to open a highly anticipated solo exhibition in a few days at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery in New York City.
Most can remember the first time they set eyes on the magnetic figurative sculptures by the Italian Matteo Pugliese — muscular male bronzes that are fragmented but emerge dramatically from the gallery walls (Extra Moenia series). The words “captivating,” “original,” and “highly inspirational” capture only part of the myriad possible responses. Opportunities to view Pugliese’s work in the United States have been, well, nonexistent, making his debut at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery in New York City all the more exciting and must-see.

Matteo Pugliese, “Kriya,” 2014, bronze, 26 3/4 x 25 1/2 x 7 3/4 in. (c) Bertrand Delacroix Gallery 2015

Matteo Pugliese, “Specchio (detail),” 2013, bronze, 38 x 22 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. (c) Bertrand Delacroix Gallery 2015

The gallery reports, “Although classical in their defined musculature, Pugliese’s powerful ‘Extra Moenia’ sculptures are wholly contemporary in the contorted positions and broken up presentation. The expressive works are innovative in the relationship to their surroundings; the blank walls on which they are installed become crucial to the viewer’s visual experience. In fact, in ‘Extra Moenia,’ the tension is derived from the presence of the wall itself. Is there anything better than a wall to represent the block, the circumstances that trap and repress us? The desire to break free from this constraint translates into a struggle, one visible in the faces and bodies of the sculptures, aiming to restore a positive physical and mental condition. Tackling this limit is the starting point and creates the opportunity for rebirth, for a new life, far from those compromises and frustrations that one had decided to accept for so long. In such a way, Pugliese’s ‘Extra Moenia’ become not only aesthetically stunning but metaphors for life experiences.”

Matteo Pugliese, “Samurai Guardian V,” 2010, bronze and terracotta, 82 3/4 x 55 x 49 1/4 in.
(c) Bertrand Delacroix Gallery 2015

Matteo Pugliese, “Indian Guardian (Vaishrava),” 2015, bronze, 17 x 9 3/4 x 8 1/2 in.
(c) Bertrand Delacroix Gallery 2015

Audiences at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery will also be able to view Pugliese’s recent bronze and terracotta warrior sculptures, part of his “The Guardians” series. The gallery writes, “In ‘The Guardians,’ the urge to break loose from the block that we see in ‘Extra Moenia’ translates into the awareness of already having been through it and coming out the other side. Battles, wars and frustrations have been left behind and only the features necessary to win those battles are visible: a strong balance, a great awareness and determination. These concepts are expressed by overturning the traditional proportions: very large and steady feet, powerful and focused bodies, determined faces and aware gazes, often with half-closed eyes — the faces are calm without fear. The figures are rounded and impressive despite their small dimensions. ‘The Guardians’ are greatly inspired by the stone guardians venerated by the Balinese animists. Like the Indonesian idols standing in front of homes to ward off evil spirits, Pugliese’s figures, with grimacing and glowering faces, hold clubs and wait in a crouching position ready to spring into the fight.”
“Breath of Freedom” opens at Bertrand Delacroix Gallery on November 5 and will be on view through December 4.
To learn more, visit Bertrand Delacroix Gallery.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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