The human body takes over ARKEN with warts and all.

4 February to 6 August 2017


Sam Jinks, Untitled (Kneeling Woman) 2015. Courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney

Sweat, freckles, wrinkles, pores, and veins. A vivid exhibition of ‘hyperrealist’ sculptures by 31 internationally recognized artists takes over ARKEN. The works make use of an extreme realism that imitates the surrounding world with an overwhelming wealth of detail. The bodies are almost more real than reality itself – they are hyperrealistic. In the encounter with the works we come unprecedentedly close to other ‘human beings’, and the experience is titillating, transgressive – even frightening. The sculptures raise existential questions like: What is alive, and what is dead? What is artificial and what is real? The questions are raised with technical perfection, psychological empathy, distortions of scale, intense presence and humour as the most powerful effects.

Science fiction and cloning

The exaggerated realism that we find in hyperrealistic sculpture is related to mankind’s dream of self-recreation. Humanoid robots, doubles or distorted creatures play important roles in a long succession of horror and science fiction films all the way from the classic about Frankenstein’s monster to Blade Runner, Alien, Terminator, innumerable TV series and most recently the film Ex Machina.

Today research and development have taken us closer than ever to the realization of our dreams or nightmares about machines, robots and replicants. One fine day we shall see cloning not just of animals but perhaps also of human beings. Most recently, CRISPR, a new genetic technology, has made it possible to edit our genetic material and design superbabies. The Danish Council on Ethics advises against the use of the technology, emphasizing the need for ethical decisions on the existential issues raised by the works.


Patricia Piccinini, Newborn, 2010. Courtesy of the artist & Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

Fascinated by the lifelike

In antiquity the artist Zeuxis is said to have been able to paint grapes so lifelike that the birds tried to eat them. From the Renaissance to the emergence of photography the ultimate, true-to-life imitation has been one of the most important endeavours of the artists, and since the 1700s until today waxworks have been popular attractions. At the beginning of the twentieth century a number of innovative currents in art abandoned the worship of naturalism and the credible illusion to create new visual realities, for example abstract art. It is against this background that one should view hyperrealism; not as a return to a kind of naturalism, but as a radical emphasis of reality. Hyperrealist artworks communicate a compelling presence and immediacy through fascination, criticism, shock and “wow effects”.

Participating artists:

Zharko Basheski MK, Frank Benson US, Berlinde de Bruyckere BE, Maurizio Cattelan IT, Brian Booth Craig US, John Davies UK, John DeAndrea US, Keith Edmier US, Carole A. Feuerman US, Daniel Firman FR, Robert Gober US, Robert Graham US, Duane Hanson US, Uffe Isolotto DK, Sam Jinks AU, Allen Jones UK, Peter Land DK, Tony Matelli US, Paul McCarthy US, Ron Mueck AU, Juan Muñoz ES, Evan Penny ZA, Patricia Piccinini AU, Mel Ramos US, Jamie Salmon UK, George Segal US,  Marc Sijan RS, Kurt Trampedach DK, Anna Uddenberg SE, Xavier Veilhan FR and Erwin Wurm AT.


Tony Matelli, Josh, 2010. Courtesy the artist and Gary Tatintsian Gallery

The exhibition has been supported by:

Augustinus Fonden
Knud Højgaards Fond

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