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b. 1981, Australia

Troy Emery Biography

At the core of Troy Emery's 'fake taxidermy' sculptures is an interest in humankind's relationship with animals. Often using materials that have been traditionally associated with craft, Emery explores the contrast between art and craft while contemplating the idea that animals serve as decorative objects for humans.

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A typical Troy Emery sculpture begins as a polyurethane foam mannequin—the kind used by taxidermists—in the form of an animal. Taking such materials as pompoms, yarn, tinsels, tassels, and pelt, the artist completely covers the mannequin to create new creatures. This process has led Emery to describe his sculptures as 'fake taxidermy' in interviews such as a 2011 conversation with Yellow Trace, as it entails giving a new skin to the animal without producing a fully taxidermied object.

Implicit in Emery's use of bright, playful colours and taxidermy mannequins are the various ways in which humans utilise animals, whether living or dead. In zoos, for example, a small selection of animals stand in as an allegory for a larger ecosystem; throughout daily life, pets, fur coats, and animal prints are deployed as embellishment.

Troy Emery's sculptures from the early 2010s such as Wild Thing (2010) tend to have vivid, psychedelic colours, with long fringes of tassel in rainbow colours. In some, like Beastly (2012), the aggressive demeanour of the glass eyes and fake teeth contrasts with the round and soft pom poms. Later exhibitions, including Missionaries at Sydney's Martin Browne Contemporary (2017) and After the Gold Rush at Art Gallery of Ballarat (2019) showed more monochrome works, with the artist engaging with muted gold, baby pink, and even black.

While most known for his sculptures, Troy Emery also paints. Many of these paintings depict the more familiar, domesticated animals such as cats and parrots, rendered in thickly applied oil paint. His brushstrokes are almost tactile in some works, such as the 2018 paintings peregrine falcon and budgerigar I, in which individual brushstrokes delineate the feathers.

Another common theme in Troy Emery's paintings is the double-handed urn, evoking ancient Greek vases in their depictions of a minotaur (small vase with minotaur, 2020) and male nudes holding a confronting stance (tough guys, 2020).

Troy Emery received his BFA in Sculpture from the University of Tasmania in 2005 and Masters of Visual Art in Sculpture, Performance and Installation from the University of Sydney in 2009. His works are in the public collections of Artbank Australia Collection; Bathurst Regional Art Gallery Collection; Goulburn Regional Art Gallery Permanent Collection; and the National Gallery of Victoria.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2020

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