Artist Marc Quinn used 10 pints of his own blood to create this sculpture. (ABC News: James Fettes)
Sculptures ranging from almost-too-real to bizarrely grotesque are the key part of an exhibition that promises to challenge audiences to look beyond what’s skin deep.
Hyper Real at the National Gallery of Australia is built predominantly around true-to-life sculptures, designed in many cases to challenge and provoke.
Focused both on the human form and the otherworldly, the exhibition contains many sculptures built with silicon skin and flesh and glass eyes for lifelike effect.
“One of the greatest impacts of the hyperreal genre is kind of that momentary double take – when we’re not quite sure if what we’re looking at is real,” curator Jacklyn Babington said.
“Everybody sees a sculpture that potentially reminds them of something that they’ve experienced or someone that they know, so the reactions can be extremely personal.
Patricia Piccinini’s piece ‘The Welcome Guest’ aims to illustrate how children’s ideas of reality and imagination are intertwined. (ABC News: James Fettes)
“It was a destabilising effect, and its an instinctive effect.”
Australian artist Sam Jinks acknowledged some visitors would be creeped-out by the uncanny sculptures on display.
“It’s like when someone walks into a room and out of the corner of their eye they’ll encounter a mannequin or something like that, there’s a physical reaction that people have.
“It’s a way of accessing that part of human nature, it’s almost like instinct.
“The eeriness is often to do with people comparing the figures to themselves … in emotionally responding to the work, they’ll often draw themselves into the work.
Bridging the gap before fantasy and reality
Tony Matelli says his artwork ‘Josh’ captures the last nanosecond of a life before it is extinguished. (ABC News: James Fettes)
Creations by Patricia Piccinini, the Australian artist behind the controversial Skywhale balloon, often meld the fantastical with human traits.
Several of her sculptures are featured in the exhibition.
“I’m interested in hyperrealism because it’s a great means to an end, and my end is to engage with ideas,” she said.
“Realism engages people’s empathy.
“There’s a lot that goes in them, but I’m not particularly invested in the process, I’m more interested in it as a kind of means to an end.”
The exhibition, which opens on Friday will run until mid-February.
“We’re looking at a movement that is really very, very important and has been for about half a century,” NGA director Gerard Vaughan said.
“We’re exploring that interesting territory between what we might call reality and fantasy, they sound like opposites, but hyperreality actually bridges the gap and takes us right through.
“We’ve never had a general exhibition about this before.”