Exhibitions, News & Commentary, Visual Arts

Patricia Piccinini’s Curious Affection at GOMA, Brisbane

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In what is the largest solo show of Patricia Piccinini works ever staged in Australia, Patricia Piccinini: Curious Affection, which opened at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) on Friday, is both a beautiful and creepy experience.

Taking up the entire ground floor of the vast GOMA building, with a one of the works reaching its pinnacle in the gallery’s atrium, Piccinini opens the senses and the curious mind to a series of what she calls “propositions”or “catalysts for conversations”.

‘Kindred’ 2017, (detail)

Known for her disturbingly human-like creatures made from silicone, fibreglass, human hair, clothing and found objects, Piccinini created the works in the Melbourne studio she shares with her husband, artist and sculptor, Peter Hennessey.

Patricia - xxxx_3_by Phoebe Powell
Artist Patricia Piccinini. Photo by Phoebe Powell

“Over the years, I have built up a sort of alternative world that exists just beyond the real world we live in. It is strange but familiar at the same time. What I wanted to do for this exhibition is to bring this entire world to life,” Piccinini says. ‘I am interested in the boundaries between things like technology and nature between the environment and humans and animals, which seem to be breaking down.”

A highlight of the show – and a gateway to the entire exhibition – is a giant orange inflatable sculpture Pneutopia, (2018), which dominates the gallery space and billows from what appears to be the roof of a humble garden shed.

Step inside the shed and look up into this mass of fleshy forms as it journeys up the gallery’s atrium. Suddenly you are subsumed into another, almost bodily, world. The themes of flesh, body and reproduction are echoed throughout the show with a playful emphasis on the orifice as a meeting of the ‘inside and out.’

“Even though there’s a lot of monstrosity it’s very positive, it’s sanguine, it’s pulsing with the life force,” Patricia Piccinini

Also among the new works is The Field, (2018), a literal field of 3000 flower sculptures on willowy stems which appear to ebb and flow as you walk through the space. Dotted among the fleshy flowers are more new works which again are disturbing and yet strangely familiar. Kindred, (2018) is a sculpture of an orangutan-like mother and two babies which offers a chance to bond with the commonality of animal life and motherhood.

‘The Bond’ 2016, (detail)

The Couple (2018), is a intimate work set inside a vintage caravan which is placed within a diorama of wildlife is also another double-take moment. “For the people coming to see the show, I wanted them to have a journey, a real experience,” she says, “the show is really about relationships, wonder and fecundity, this whole world (in the show) is brimming with life, even though there’s a lot of monstrosity it’s very positive; it’s sanguine; it’s pulsing with the life force,” Piccinini says. “We see a lot of ambiguity, but there is commonality with each creature and that is about reproduction.”

Teenage Metamorphosis 2017 Silicone, fibreglass, human hair, found objects 25 x71x52cm
‘Teenage Metamorphosis’ 2017

The companion gallery space holds a retrospective of Piccinini’s previous works. “It’s great to have all the family members in one place. It’s quite interesting to see the different ways of relating to artwork, I would have been happy just doing this retrospective show to be honest, but to be able to come to GOMA and have this, to be able to reflect on the work in this way has been fantastic.”

Patricia Piccinini : Curious Affection is at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane from March 24 until August 5, 2018.

[box]Main image: Young Family, 2017 [/box]

2 responses to “Patricia Piccinini’s Curious Affection at GOMA, Brisbane

  1. I basically like Patricia’s work. Its smart and daring. Patricia totally deserves her ample success.

    HOWEVER I have to say that it is still only film props at heart. Things made by people who also make special effects for film. The way Contemporary Art is promoted has forgotten what progressive art once was. The early avant gardes were AGAINST mainstream taste, the early avant gardes were about stepping over current taste and form always in serach of the Future. Sure Patricia’s work seems to talk of the future with its concerns of biological hybridity etc BUT the actual “form” the works take is very very normal. Moviw props and before them stage props have been around forever.

    Patricia’s work is exemplary Contemporary Art BUT I don’t mean that as a compliment. We need to draw back from the current Contemporary Art epoch and take a wider view. GOMA’s last big success was an exhibition of Marvel Comics film props and ephemera, it was hugely successful of course. Now we have more movie props this time asking us to take them as Art. Just as Ron Muek moved from being a prop maker to Artist, prooving to us there is no material difference whatsoever.

    Peel back the slick PR above and we see just how Conservative this art is, just how Conservative all Contemporary Art is. Once Pop Art thrived because it LEVERED off a stale mainstream old guard. NOW Contemporary Art has totally digested Pop Art so that there is no outside, there is only a flat continuous NOW, all of it INSIDE the system.

    The real world of sci fi is still mainly outside the “art system” and one feverntly hope it stays there otherwise we will only have the FLAT EARTH of GOMA and alike.

  2. Patricia Piccinini’s work is indeed thought provoking, but is she the hands-on creator of all presented as hers? Or, is she Australia’s Jeff Koons? We need to know.

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