December 25, 2017

Hyper Real @ National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Hyper Real
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Through 18 February 2018

Ron Mueck
Pregnant woman 2002
mixed media
252 x 78 x 72 cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased with the assistance of Tony and Carol Berg, 2003, © Ron Mueck
Courtesy the artist, Anthony d’Offay, London and Hauser & Wirth

Carole A Feuerman
General’s twin 2009–11
resin, oil paint
61 x 38 x 20.5 cm
Galerie Hübner & Hübner
© Carole Feuerman
Image courtesy Institute for Cultural Exchange

At the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), visitors can expect to see a frozen sculpture made entirely of the artist’s blood, a transgenic creature giving birth amidst an infinite meadow and a virtual journey through a human skull floating in space amongst the incredible array of ultra-real sculpture and digital art on display.  

Hyper Real presents some of the world’s most incredible true-to-life sculpted forms alongside recent kinetic, biological and virtual creations. The exhibition investigates how artists are pushing the boundaries of the genre in their exploration of what constitutes the contemporary hyperreal.  
‘Presenting 32 artists and nearly 50 works, Hyper Real focuses on extraordinary talent from around the world,’ said Gerard Vaughan, NGA Director. ‘Most importantly, this exhibition highlights the exceptional contribution of Australian practitioners, including Patricia Piccinini, Sam Jinks, Ron Mueck, Shaun Gladwell, Jan Nelson, Stephen Birch and Ronnie van Hout.’ 

Installation view of George Segal’s works 
in the Hyper Real exhibition 
at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
‘This exhibition not only celebrates the astonishing material and technical feats that have made hyperrealism such a globally popular genre, but also explores the conceptual framework within which these works operate,’ said Jaklyn Babington, NGA Senior Curator of Contemporary Art. ‘Contemporary hyperrealism has pushed beyond static sculpture and into the digital realm. It is a shape-shifting genre, simultaneously traditional and innovative, familiar and provocative.’  
From the Renaissance to the present day, artists have long been fascinated with the human form. Hyperrealism momentarily tricks audiences into believing the artworks to be real and, in doing so, encourages viewers to reconsider what it means to be human. 

Maurizio Cattelan
Ave Maria 2007
polyurethane, paint, clothing, metal
74 x 13 cm x 65 cm
Private collection

Allen Jones
Refrigerator 2002
mixed media
188 x 84 x 37 cm
Private collection

Hyper Real delves into the nuances and complexities of the nude body. From the astonishing precision of replication in Paul McCarthy’s work, to the idealised beauty of John DeAndrea’s sculpted women and the oversized, emotionally exposed figures of Ron Mueck, the nude is central to hyperrealism. 

John DeAndrea
Lisa 2016
bronze, oil paint, hair
30.5 x 170.2 x 91.5 cm
Collection of John DeAndrea & Lorraine DeAndrea

Sam Jink’s technically spectacular oeuvre is exemplified by the NGA’s new commission The deposition 2017, an emotive exploration of the fragility of life and familial roles.   

Sam Jinks
Woman and child 2010
silicone, pigment, resin, silk, human hair
145 x 40 x 40 cm
Collection of the artist
© Sam Jinks. Image courtesy of the artist, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney and 
Institute for Cultural Exchange, Tübingen

Zharko Basheski 
Ordinary man 2009–10
polyester resin, fiberglass, silicone, hair
220.0 x 180.0 x 85.0 cm
Collection of the artist

Humour and satire are used to deliver social and political commentary in Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s kinetic sculptures, while Maurizio Cattelan uses a playful juxtaposition to explore how the notions of power and evil are constructed. Hyper Real pushes the genre beyond today’s understanding of what is natural by encompassing the fantastic hybrid creatures of Patricia Piccinini. 

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu
Old people’s home 2007
fiberglass, silica gel, clothing, accessories, electric wheelchairs, dimensions variable
Collection of  Mr. Shi Lai Liu

Marc Sijan
Cornered 2011
polyester resin, oil paint
73.6 x 38.1 x 71.1 cm
Collection of the artist
© Marc Sijan
Image courtesy of the artist and Institute for Cultural Exchange, Tübingen
‘My work deals with ideas of transgenesis—beings that may be part-flower, part-boot, part-human – and looks upon them with compassion, love and acceptance,’ said artist Patricia Piccinini. ‘I question how far science and technology may take us, and what ethical questions arise around beings that are non-conformative and imperfect.’ 

Patricia Piccinini with her work The welcome guest
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Patricia Piccinini
Prone 2011
silicone, fibreglass, human hair, felt
230 x 60 x 60 cm
Collection of the artist 
Courtesy of the artist, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, 
Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne and 
Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco

Our computer-generated world is explored through Cao Fei’s pop culture offering, created in the game of Second Life. Tony Oursler’s digital talking head holds a mirror to the twenty-first century’s social media obsession; with anguish, Oursler’s projection tells the viewer it will die if it is not continually looked at and commented upon. 

Cao Fei
Live in RMB City 2009
single-channel video: 24:50 minutes, sound, colour
M+ Sigg Collection, Hong Kong
By donation

Shaun Gladwell
Orbital vanitas 2017
virtual reality: computer-generated animation, 6:00 minutes, sound, colour
Produced by BADFAITH
Courtesy the artist, Anna Schwartz Gallery and BADFAITH 

Creating sculptures that engage with surprising themes, the unbelievable craftsmanship of Tony Matelli’s Josh depicts a young man who appears to both levitate and fall, while Berlinde de Bruckyere’s Elie is presented in a state between agony and death, the human and inhuman.  

Tony Matelli 
Josh 2010
silicone, steel, hair, urethane, clothing
77 x 183 x 56 cm
Collection of the artist

Berlinde De Bruyckere
Elie 2009
wax, epoxy, cushion
38 x 154 x 115 cm
Fundació Sorigué, Lleida, Spain

Sculptures depicting popular figures such as Spider Man, clowns and pin-up girls reveal how culture and the media construct other hyperreal forms, while Ronnie van Hout’s doppelgängers and Marc Quinn’s self-portrait – created with litres of the artist’s frozen blood – provide disconcerting commentary on the infinite replication of humans in the future.  

Ronnie van Hout
Sitting figure I 2016
polyurethane, fibreglass, polystyrene, paint, clothing, acrylic, stainless steel
106 x 90 x 110 cm
Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2017
Courtesy of the artist and STATION, Melbourne

Shaun Gladwell’s virtual reality artwork is an immersive experience, a simulation that tricks us into believing that we are out of our mortal shells, and exploring deep space. VR offers a technological advancement of the human body. As technology is used to enhance our human capabilities we become another kind of hyperreal figure ourselves.  

The Russian collective AES+F present a high-definition 360° immersive video work evoking the aesthetic of daytime soap operas, with a provocative twist. In AES+F’s inverted world, the poor overthrow the rich, women torture men, youths punish their elders and animals usurp humans. 

Inverso mundus 2015
seven-channel HD video installation: 38:20 minutes, sound, colour
Courtesy of the artists, MAMM, Anna Schwartz Gallery and Triumph Gallery

Hyper Real explores art, psychology, science, technology and philosophy through the very realness of its subject matter. Welcome to humanity amplified.  

Evan Penny
Self stretch 2012
silicone, pigment, hair, aluminium 
122 x 81 x 69 cm
Courtesy of the artist

Allen Jones
Refrigerator 2002
mixed media
188 x 84 x 37 cm
Private collection

Peter Land
Back to square one 2015
silicone, human hair, fabric, cardboard, leather, dimensions variable
Courtesy of Galleri Nicolai Wallner and Peter Land


AES+F (Russia)
Zharko Basheski (Macedonia)
Stephen Birch (Australia)
Maurizio Cattelan (Italy)
John De Andrea (USA)
Berlinde de Bruyckere (Belgium)
Keith Edmier (USA)
Cao Fei (China)
Carole A Feuerman (USA)
Daniel Firman (France)
Shaun Gladwell (Australia)
Robert Gober (USA)
Duane Hanson (USA)
Sam Jinks (Australia)
Allen Jones (UK)
Peter Land (Denmark)
Tony Matelli (USA)
Paul McCarthy (USA)
Ron Mueck (Australia)
Jan Nelson (Australia)
Tony Oursler (USA) 
Evan Penny (USA) 
Patricia Piccinini (Australia) 
Marc Quinn (UK) 
Mel Ramos (US) 
Ugo Rondinone (Swiss) 
Jamie Salmon (UK) 
George Segal (USA) 
Marc Sijan (Serbia) 
Ronnie van Hout (NZ/Australia) 
Sun Yuan & Peng Yu (China)

This exhibition is made possible through the support of presenting partner Visit Canberra, major partner Qantas, and supporting partner Maddocks, as well as Exhibition Patrons, Zeke Solomon and the Neilson Foundation.