Renowned Australian artist Patricia Piccinini is staging her first solo exhibition in Hong Kong, titled HOPE, at Tai Kwun Contemporary, until September 3. The large-scale summer exhibition featuring more than 50 sculptures, paintings, and moving image works explores the unexpected consequences of tampering with nature.

Piccinini is best known for her hyper-realistic sculptures whose human scale and touchingly expressive features belie their non-human limbs, fins, wings, and scales. HOPE aims to offer visitors an engrossing, perplexing and deeply touching view of a fantastical imaginary world, yet one with which we identify naturally and instinctively.

The Observer shows Patricia Piccinini's fascination with depicting children, for the potential of innocence and vulnerability they represent.
The Observer shows Patricia Piccinini’s fascination with depicting children for the potential of innocence and vulnerability they represent (© Tai Kwun Contemporary)

The artist’s fascination by what she calls “artificial nature” is depicted in HOPE. She imagines awe-inspiring and somewhat unsettling mixtures of creatures, where humans may be combined with living beings concocted in the imagination — or in the laboratory. 

The exhibition encompasses all of the gallery spaces of JC Contemporary. Among the largest works in the show is Celestial Fields — a vast immersive installation comprising 4,500 individual flower stems sprouting both upwards from the floor and downwards from the ceiling, drawing the visitor into its embrace where it poses questions on the nature of progress. 

The Loafers represents the artist’s interest in the dissolution of boundaries between humans and animal, as well as separate individual creatures.
The Loafers represents the artist’s interest in the dissolution of boundaries between humans and animals, as well as separate individual creatures. (© Tai Kwun Contemporary)

Elsewhere, Piccinini responds to the signature spiral staircase of JC Contemporary with a 20-metre-high installation of multi-coloured wigs spun together and suspended down the void from the ceiling of the top floor. The Loafers — two figures resting against one another, cheek by jowl — is representative of the artist’s interest in the dissolution of boundaries.

Piccinini has been featured in many highly successful exhibitions around the world, including a pavilion presentation at the Venice Biennale in 2003. While her work raises questions about scientific progress and mankind’s destructive power over nature, a resilient optimism shines through as the scale and expressiveness of her works speak of tenderness, care, and empathy.

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Tickets for HOPE, priced at HK$60 for general admission, and HK$50 on a concessionary basis, are available on Klook. Children under five years can enter for free.

Header image credits: Tai Kwun Contemporary

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