This exhibition brings together recent works that continue my explorations of the nature of life and living in the contemporary world. I am fascinated by the narrative and ethical repercussions ensuing from our increasingly sophisticated understanding of and interventions into the structure of life. The amazing and extraordinary potential for this knowledge can only be contrasted against the relatively poor use we seem to be making of it.
Several facets of my own interest can be seen in three major pieces that have been brought together for this show. The Strength of One Arm, 2009 depicts a hybrid creature with flipper-like feet which suggest that he exists at a transitionary moment, somewhere between the land and the sea. He is dressed like a gymnast and balances artfully on the back of a resigned looking Canadian mountain goat. The whole scene has the uncomfortable atmosphere of an old-fashioned zoo or circus performance, where our sense of wonder is undercut somewhat by the obvious inequity of the situation. We are interested in nature so long as it performs for us and does what it is told. A similar sense of unease is evident in The Observer, 2010 which presents a young boy perched precariously atop an unbalanced stack of mass-produced chairs. The boy looks down on us, perhaps just watching, or possibly judging, us according to his own criteria. We cannot help but worry about the dubious stability of the edifice on top of which he has been placed, as it seems ready to collapse at any moment. The implications of this as a metaphor for the world we are building for our own children are clear. Ironically, it is The Comforter, 2010 that is for me one of the most optimistic works in the exhibition. This piece presents a pre-teen girl, leaned against the gallery wall gently cradling a strange amorphous being. The girl is covered in hair, a genetic condition known as hypertrichosis. However she is undeniably beautiful – not just despite, but perhaps even because, of her difference.
—Patricia Piccinini, November 2010
Patricia Piccinini is one of Australia’s most distinguished artists. She has exhibited nationally and internationally for over two decades. In 2003 Piccinini represented Australia at the Venice Biennale. A major solo exhibition, Patricia Piccinini: Relativity, was recently held at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (May – August 2010) and in 2011 a retrospective of Piccinini’s work is planned for the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Other solo exhibitions include: Hug: Recent Work by Patricia Piccinini at the Des Moines Art Centre, Iowa and the Frye Art Museum, Seattle, and In Another Life, at the City Gallery, Wellington in 2005. Piccinini has been included in numerous group exhibitions and international biennales such as The Biennale of Sydney (2002), The Liverpool Biennale (2002), Global Feminisms, Brooklyn Museum, New York (2007) and Transformation, MOT, Tokyo, (2010). Piccinini’s work is held in all Australian state galleries as well as important private collections nationally and internationally. Beyond our kin is Patricia Piccinnini’s sixth solo exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery.