Patricia Piccinini, (born 1965 in Freetown, Sierra Leone) is an Australian artist who works in a variety of media, including painting, video, sound, installation, digital prints, and sculpture. In 2003, Piccinini represented Australia at the 50th Venice Biennale with a hyperrealist sculpture of her distinctive anthropomorphic animals. In 2016 The Art Newspaper named Piccinini with her “grotesque-cum-cute, hyper-real genetics fantasies in silicone” the most popular contemporary artist in the world after a show in Rio de Janeiro attracted over 444,000 visitors.
Piccinini begun studying economics at Australian National University. Later she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1991.
According to her 2002 National Gallery of Victoria biography:
Piccinini has an ambivalent attitude towards technology and she uses her artistic practice as a forum for discussion about how technology impacts upon life. She is keenly interested in how contemporary ideas of nature, the natural and the artificial are changing our society. Specific works have addressed concerns about biotechnology, such as gene therapy and ongoing research to map the human genome … she is also fascinated by the mechanisms of consumer culture.”
In 2003, Piccinini represented Australia at the 50th Venice Biennale. The work exhibited was ‘We Are Family’.
In a 2014 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Piccinini said of her work, “It’s about evolution, nature – how nature is such a wonderful thing, we’re just here to witness it, it’s not here for us – genetic engineering, changing the body.”
Following her 2014 win in the Melbourne Art Foundation’s Awards, she went on to say that:
The thing about this award on some levels is that my work … all of it has this first impact, the sort of impact of spectacle. It’s beautifully made, strong, aesthetic, so people are interested in that and it draws them in, and then they get interested in the idea. It takes a while to get to the idea. It’s not easy. So this award says, “We get it, we get what you’re trying to do, we’ve gone beyond the surface, we can see that there are ideas underneath, and these ideas are about the opportunity for connection”.
In 2015 she presented as part of a group exhibition entitled Menagerie at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.
In 2016, the TAC commissioned Piccinini to work in collaboration with Dr. David Logan, a senior research fellow at the Monash University Accident Research Centre, and trauma surgeon Dr. Christian Kenfield, for “Project Graham” – as part of the TAC’s road safety campaign Towards Zero. “Graham”, a lifelike, interactive sculpture, highlights how vulnerable the human body is to the forces involved in auto accidents. As the TAC explains: “Graham highlights the changes we need to make to protect ourselves from our own mistakes on the road. At the centre of this system is the belief that human health is more important than anything else, he is the embodiment of the Towards Zero vision.”
The joint exhibition ‘Patricia Piccinini & Joy Hester Through Love …’ at TarraWarra Museum of Art included a new site specific work ‘Sanctuary’: combining a sculpture of a pair of embracing anthropomorphic bonobo figures of silicone, fiberglass and hair; with a drawing on paper and digital wall print of multiple human limbs forming a horizon. Screen studies professor and animal ethicist Barbara Creed says Piccinini’s work is loving and heals wounds of divisions:
“In profound ways, Piccinini’s artistic practice calls to the spectator to consider a new way of being, a new form of opening out an embracing difference, through new ways of looking … that encourages us to look alongside and with her creations while reminding us we are all animals.”
In 2016 she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Visual and Performing Arts by the University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts and appointed their Enterprise Professor.
In 2014 she received the Artist Award from the Melbourne Art Foundation’s Awards for the Visual Arts.
*This is not a biography. For full bio, please conduct your own further research.