Two art shows in LA might look like your dining area after Thanksgiving. LA native Ryan Flores’ “The Fruit Vendor” features ceramic fruits and vegetables in varying states of freshness. Tony Matelli’s “Arrangements” has topsy-turvy flower arrangements, plus two lifelike sculptures of the artist himself with his head positioned off his neck.
“I think there's a kind of interesting philosophical point that the artist is making here, implying human experience as an arrangement,” says Lindsay Preston Zappas, founder and editor-in-chief of Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles. “The same way [like] these flowers … we all exist in relation to our environment and the world that we build around us.”
While only one show has a life-like sculpture of the artist, both play with ideas and themes common in still life paintings of fruit or flowers. For centuries in still life paintings, flowers have symbolized impermanence, something once vibrant and alive, but decaying. Fruit has often symbolized mortality, but also fertility or abundance.
“When artists choose to utilize objects like this, they're definitely tapping into that tradition,” says Zappas. “I think here, they're putting a cheeky spin on those depictions as well.”
To add to the cheekiness of Matelli’s show, Zappas says the artist attended his opening dressed exactly as his lifelike sculptures — of course, with his head fully on his neck.
“The Fruit Vendor” is on view at Moskowitz Bayse in Mid City through December 22.
“Arrangements” is on view at Nino Mier Gallery 1 in West Hollywood through December 23.