This is Patricia Piccinini's ninth solo exhibition at Tolarno Galleries and her first full- bodied drawing exhibition.
It comprises two series of drawings: Voyages of Discovery
and Meditations on the continuum of vitality
. Completed during 2014 to 2015, this sweeping though intimate presentation is a glimpse into the surreal world of Patricia Piccinini where ideas and images coalesce in the most striking and unexpected manner.
Made following the public launch of The Skywhale
, her hugely successful hot air balloon which first flew over Canberra in 2013 and has since travelled internationally, these magical drawings are the product of Patricia Piccinini’s retreat to the privacy and quiet of her studio.
Patricia Piccinini on drawing:
The title of this exhibition - And colour is their flesh - comes from some remarks from Nicolas Poussin about art; where he likens drawing to the skeleton of what an artist does and colour to its flesh. This idea rings true to me on many levels. Drawing has always been at the core of my practice and these drawings often become something very fleshy. I would say that flesh is very much central to what I do also.
I have wanted for a long time to do an exhibition of drawings and to focus on the process of drawing as a way to explore ideas further. There is a very personal investment in a drawing, an amount of time that cannot be rushed and a real physicality between the artist and the paper.
These drawings are a series of explorations of ideas and aesthetics that currently excite me. They are a space in which I can think about Surrealism, for example, which is as central to my broader practice as realism is. These works are emotional, and funny, free and perhaps a bit obsessive.
There are a number of tropes that I have returned to again and again in my work. The body, obviously; this thing that we all have in common but which also makes us all
different to a greater or less degree. This fleshiness also joins us to other animals and to the rest of the world. There is also my love of botanical and zoological illustration.
I am very interested in hummingbirds, those avian pollinators whose incredible variety symbolises evolution as much their relationship with plants expresses the omnipresence and variety of sexual reproduction.
Hair is a big part of these works, as it has been a big part of my practice forever. There is wild unruly hair. There is elaborately styled hair. There is hair that forms into something else. There is stuff that just looks like hair but isn’t. For me, hair is one of the great symbols because it is so amorphous and can be so many things at once. It is ambiguous but emotive and beautiful. Hair is living but it is not alive. It is sensuous but it has no feelings. Hair is never fixed, we can transform our hair into whatever we choose but at the same time it will always try to return to a tangle. What we do to our hair expresses both our interiority and our relationship to social pressures. Hair is one of these things that is used to divide us but it is also what unites us with all other mammals.
For me, hair in all its manifestations is beautiful to draw. It is the clothes for the amorphous characters I am creating, sometimes it is all there is to give them form. And sometimes that is more than enough.
Patricia Piccinini 2015
And colour is their flesh
Image courtesy of the Artist and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
Installation photography by Andrew Curtis.
Press release courtesy Tolarno Galleries.