Patricia Piccinini (b. 1965) is one of Australia’s most important artists who has represented the country at the Venice Biennale in 2003. Her practice resides in the complex sphere of the real and hyperreal, the factual and speculative, and is mindfully engaged with a wide range of ideas from concepts of the uncanny to the advent of the cyborg, biopolitics and posthumanism. Based on a deep curiosity for the natural world, Piccinini’s wonder situates her practice at the frontier of some of the most pressing issues of the twenty-first century.
Renowned for her enigmatic sculptures that depict hybrid humanoid creatures, Piccinini has challenged frontiers of the hyperrealist tradition in sculpture. Working across an array of materials such as silicone, fibreglass and human hair, she creates surreal beings based upon genetic science developments and historical studies. Creatures with soulful brown eyes and long ears, scales, or webbed extremities, appear simultaneously captivating and endearing. Central to Piccinini’s practice are the dynamics between families and species, science and nature, art and the environment. Charting a terrain in which scientific progress and ethical questions are intertwined, her sculptures challenge audiences to question our relationship with the natural world, and ultimately what it means to be human today.
At the 2003 Venice Biennale, Piccinini created We are Family, a project that transformed the Australian Pavilion into a home of the future. Expressing her fascination with the relationship between what is considered natural and what is considered artificial, We are Family was critically acclaimed and ARTnews America singled her out as ‘an artist to watch.’ Piccinini has exhibited widely at institutions such as Victoria and Albert Museum (UK); Tate Modern (UK), National Gallery of Australia, Mori Art Museum (Japan), National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul (Korea), National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington (USA), Arken Museum (Denmark), amongst many others. She has also participated in the Berlin, Gwang’ju, Liverpool and Sydney Biennales and most recently, the Artium, Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain presented a major retrospective exhibition encompassing a decade of her work from 1997 – 2007.