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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Petrina Hicks

b. 1972, Australia

Petrina Hicks began her career in commercial photography. Though she eventually left that world behind to join the critical discourse of contemporary art, she brought her previous occupation's style and skills with her to explore the creation and representation of female identity, beauty and advertorial modes. While holding onto a commercial aesthetic, Hicks subverts mainstream structures of production and consumption. Working primarily with large-scale photography and high-definition video, Hicks uses standards and structures of so-called 'perfection' to break the concept apart at its seams.

The soft, alluring pastel colour palette of Hicks' photographs speaks to a crossroads between innocence and experience. It also speaks to advertising's idealisation of youth, and youth's relationship to beauty and sexuality. Eerie yet alluring, the images are highly staged, crafted cornucopias of colour and symbolism. The heightened reality of the photographs' world stretches ideas of femininity and womanhood to their breaking point. Hicks also takes under her wing the vocabularies of traditional Western painting's mythology and symbolism to blend classical image culture with contemporary visual language.

In The Chrysalis (2011)—a six-minute single-channel high definition phantom video that plays on loop—the viewer watches the mouth of a young girl lick a group of pale pink flowers over and over again against a pale blue-green background. The flowers grow heavy and dribble with saliva. Works such as this exemplify Hicks' engagement with an advertorial culture quite literally dripping with consumerist lust. The video is both beautiful and incredibly disturbing. In the photograph Shenae and Jade (2005), consumerism is once more engaged with both literally and metaphorically; a young blonde girl with rosy freckled cheeks and hair tied back behind her ears, mascara covering her long eyelashes, dressed in a rose-tinged lace blouse against a rose-tinged background, is pictured eating a green parrot. The pastel gentleness of the image contrasts the violent action represented therein.

Photography has the potential to act as a journalistic, reportorial tool. However, it also has the potential to be a great storyteller and weaver of myths. The work of Petrina Hicks speaks to photography's duality on this plane. Truth and beauty battle in the photographs to present at once elegant and disconcerting narratives that engage in the lust and greed of consumer culture. Unusual for Hicks' photographs, Adams Apple (2013) presents a male model. He is seated in a pose reminiscent of ancient Grecian art, nude, muscles wet with oil. His seat is covered by a sweeping blue fabric, while a similar red-pink fabric hangs in the background. In the foreground, next to the model's feet sits a bright yellow vase. The colours of the photograph allude to the gaudy colours many now-unpainted marble Greek sculptures were originally painted in. The photograph points to the not-so-distant relationship between high art and advertising kitsch present both historically and in contemporary society.

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

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Blue Bird by Petrina Hicks contemporary artwork Petrina HicksBlue Bird, 2018 Pigment print
120 x 120 cm
This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein
Lauren and Python by Petrina Hicks contemporary artwork Petrina HicksLauren and Python, 2018 Pigment print
120 x 120 cm
This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein
Peaches and Velvet by Petrina Hicks contemporary artwork Petrina HicksPeaches and Velvet, 2018 Pigment print
120 x 120 cm
This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein
Cosmos by Petrina Hicks contemporary artwork Petrina HicksCosmos, 2018 Pigment print
100 x 100 cm
This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein
Peach Face by Petrina Hicks contemporary artwork Petrina HicksPeach Face, 2018 of 8
120 x 100 cm
This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein
Peach Study by Petrina Hicks contemporary artwork Petrina HicksPeach Study, 2018 Pigment print
120 x 120 cm
This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein
Silver Bullets by Petrina Hicks contemporary artwork Petrina HicksSilver Bullets, 2018 Pigment print
120 x 120 cm
This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein
Birds Eye by Petrina Hicks contemporary artwork Petrina HicksBirds Eye, 2018 Pigment Print
120 x 120 x 4 cm
This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Kirsten Coelho, Michael Cook, Petrina Hicks, Lakin Ogunbanwo, Yhonnie Scarce, Jacqui Stockdale, Summer 2018 at This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne
Closed
24 November–16 December 2018 Kirsten Coelho, Michael Cook, Petrina Hicks, Lakin Ogunbanwo, Yhonnie Scarce, Jacqui Stockdale Summer 2018 This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne
Contemporary art exhibition, Petrina Hicks, Still Life Studio at This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne
Closed
2–20 October 2018 Petrina Hicks Still Life Studio This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne
Contemporary art exhibition, Michael Cook, Simon Degroot, Juan Ford, Petrina Hicks, Group Exhibition at This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne
Closed
1–30 June 2018 Michael Cook, Simon Degroot, Juan Ford, Petrina Hicks Group Exhibition This Is No Fantasy dianne tanzer + nicola stein, Melbourne

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