Matteo Pugliese – Strenght, power, movement, tension and limits

After he was awarded his degree in Modern Literature at the University of Milan with a graduation thesis on Art criticism, and after a career at Walt Disney and Warner Bros., Pugliese decided in 2001 to concentrate fully on the art of sculpting, a passion that he had already since his childhood. 

Without any formal arts training, he rented a private space in the center of Milan where he organized and financed his first solo exhibition. Today, his works are on permanent display in galleries in major cities throughout the world, such as New York, Rome, Hong Kong, London, Lugano and Antwerp. In recent years his pieces have been sold with considerable success at some of the world’s most prestigious fine art auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonham’s and Dorotheum. Although wastly diverse in size and subject matter, his sculptures consistently return to the themes of strenght, power, movement, tension and limits. 

The Italian sculptor is known internationally for this muscular bronze men emerging from walls in unexpected, fragmented pieces, a series the artist has named ‘Extra Moenia’ (outside the walls). Although classical in their defined masculature, Pugliese’s powerful Extra Moenia sculptures are wholly contemporary in the contorted positions and broken up presentation. 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? In such a way, Pugliese’s Extra Moenia become not only aesthetically stunning but metaphors for life experiences. 

In the Guardians, the urge to break loose from the block that we see in Extra Moenia translates into the awereness 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. 

His largest sculptures, Custode Samurai V (210 cm, 450 kg), graced several months in the famous MAS museum in Antwerp. 

Pugliese spent his childhood years in Sardinia where he quickly became fascinated by the beetles on the island. He brought some of them home, painted them and released them again in their natural habitat. In each of the beetles that he manufactures now in bronze and ceramics, is a souvenir from his youth. The cheerful colours let the spectator, as it were, jump back to a carefree childhood. 

Five years after his first introduction at WM Gallery in Antwerp, Pugliese is back with a solo exhibition ‘The Secret’, from November 19th until December 30th 2016.