Patricia Piccinini

Thicker Than Water, 2007
fibreglass and automotive paint
58 x 68 x 67 cm
6 from an edition of 6


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Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
Acquired by the present owner from the above on 17 September 2008

This edition
Contemporary Australia: Optimism, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, 2008
Evolution, Tasmanian Museum and Gallery, Hobart, 14 March – 14 June 2009
Patricia Piccinini: Relativity, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 1 May - 22 August 2010
Patricia Piccinini - Once Upon a Time, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 16 April – 26 June 2011

Juliana Engberg, Patricia Piccinini: Relativity, Perth, 2010, exh. cat., illus. pp.22-23, 54
Jane Messanger, Nick Mitzevich, Patricia Piccinini - Once Upon a Time, Adelaide, 2011, exh. cat., illus. p.103, p. 145

Juliana Engberg describes perfectly the premise of Piccinini's sculptures: "Viewing the works of Patricia Piccinini, we experience both wonder and dread. Her compelling, confronting creatures - transgenic fantasies, animal hybrids and synthetic constructs - are made manifest in such a way as to play upon our emotions, provoking reactions that travel from horror to empathy in a swift movement.

Piccinini employs the tactic of endowing many of her works with sentimentality and cuteness to lure us to her creatures. This strategy enables her to propose difficult biological scenarios that we would otherwise find repulsive or taboo.

In Piccinini’s world the animal, the human and ecology are conjoined in a present/future that is mutually dependent and terrifyingly perilous. Many of her creations are responses to the crisis of extinction already confronting many living things. In such circumstances, responsibility and care must become necessary, primary instincts. Accordingly, the subjects of maternalism, survival of the family unit and evolution of the species emerge as central themes in Piccinini’s practice. Indeed ‘Madonna and Child’ references abound in her developing iconography.

The artist’s menageries of creatures stems from her consideration of new science technologies. She is particularly drawn to the evidence that shows humans and animals are linked closely in terms of their DNA structures. For Piccinini this means all things can be, and probably are, relative. Therefore many cross-pollinated, cross-bred species are not only possible, but potential. She invents narratives to account for these new relativities." (Juliana Engberg, Patricia Piccinini: Relativity, Perth, 2010, p.5)

In this work Thicker than water "
we are presented with cute, loveable little scooter siblings. Toy-like they are yet to be aware of their nascent power and sexuality, and for the moment live in happy conjoined hugs. Piccinini has made their speed and fuel dials round and wide-eyed; and instead of the antlers of their frown up cousins (seen in her work The Stags) they have little stumpy handle ears. The Thicker than water auto-creatures are cousins of Piccinini’s other baby and embryonic entities - car babies, car nuggets and auto tadpoles." ((Juliana Engberg, Patricia Piccinini: Relativity, Perth, 2010, p.22)

  • Thicker Than Water

Image courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

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Still to come