press release

25.02.2023 - 04.06.2023

Patricia Piccinini. Metamorphosis

Press release, 3 January 2022

So recognisable and yet so strange. Simultaneously bizarre and cuddly. Kunsthal Rotterdam is presenting the first major solo exhibition in the Netherlands of the Australian artist Patricia Piccinini (1965). The public will come face to face with hybrid beings that look like a cross between human and animal; hairy, vulnerable creatures locked in an embrace; a vast field where you can roam among thousands of fleshy flowers and mutated men who are incubating eggs. Using materials like silicones, glass fibre, nylon, and human hair, Piccinini creates her almost life-like, alienating sculptures in a hyperrealist way. In this exhibition, Piccinini's surrealist world will astonish people of all ages. It is impossible to remain unaffected by her sculptures.

Piccinini creates futuristic stories in a parallel universe where she explores the possibilities for a future in which humans, nature and technology are able to coexist in harmony. She uses art and science to imagine a shared future, for instance in immersive, large-scale installations such as The Field with three thousand ‘flowers’ that look like a cross between animals, flesh-eating plants, and human reproductive organs. Or with intimate sculptures, like Sanctuary (2018), a work featuring two wrinkly, bonobo-like humans in an intimate embrace. With her hyperrealist sculptures, video works, and installations she also raises questions like: What does it mean to be human? Would I be able to take care of a creature that does not look like me? Can we replace animal species that are becoming extinct with cyborgs?

The honeybee, Frankenstein, and wombats on the verge of extinction Piccinini's work forges new – fascinating and perhaps occasionally alarming – connections between various lifeforms. In Nectar (2012) a syrupy liquid oozes from an amorphous, fleshy lump sitting on a refrigerator. With this work Piccinini wants to make us aware of how important bees and the production of honey are to human beings. These insects are endangered, and when the bees become extinct, most vegetables and fruits will also disappear, leaving us with little to fill our fridges