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Made from silicone, fiberglass and even human hair, her sculptures are breathtakingly lifelike, however, we can't be sure what life they are like. The artist creates an exuberant parallel universe where transgenic experiments flourish and human evolution has given way to genetic engineering and DNA splicing. "Curious Affection" is a timely and welcome recognition of Piccinini's enormous contribution to Australian art reaching back to the mid-1990s. Working across a variety of mediums including photography, video and drawing, she is perhaps best known for her hyperreal sculptures. As a genre, hyperrealism depends on the skill of the artist to create the illusion of reality. To be truly successful, it must convince the spectator of its realness. Piccinini acknowledges this demand, but with a delightful twist. The excruciating attention to detail deliberately solicits our desire to look, only to generate unease, as her sculptures are imbued with a fascinating otherness. Part human, part animal, the works are uncannily familiar, but also alarmingly other. With more than 70 works on display, the entire ground floor has been handed over to Piccinini, a first for an Australian artist. The flamboyant exuberance of GOMA's soaring atrium is utilised and the visitor is welcomed by an enormous inflatable sculpture, "Pneutopia" (2018). With echoes of Piccinini's "Sky Whale" (2013), commissioned by the ACT Government as part of its centenary celebrations, "Pneutopia" moves with air currents circulating in the atrium, as if it were softly inhaling and exhaling. This is Piccinini fully unleashed, at her theatrical best. The artist has created a parallel universe for us to engage with her most recent installations commissioned especially for the exhibition. The sheer power of endless repetition comes to the fore, as the spectator is engulfed by 3000 biomorphic flowers, standing tall on metre-long stems. The ivory white of the flowers glows eerily against the dark gallery space. Titled "The Field" (2018), these uterine shaped ceramic forms, complete with ovaries and fallopian tubes, reach back in history, evoking ancient fertility figures such as the Venus of Willendorf. Sensitive to movement, the flowers sway tenderly, quietly acknowledging the viewer's physical presence.
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