Hyper Real is the wonderfully warped exhibition coming to mess with Canberra’s mind

Hyper Real is not your average exhibition. It’s designed to shock you, challenge you and make you question the fundamental notion of what it means to be human.


Well, with a levitating man, a genetically engineered baby and real-life giants, of course!

The exhibition touches down in Canberra’s National Gallery of Australia on 20 October, and will run all the way through to 18 February, 2018.

It’ll feature freaky and fascinating works from international visionaries like Geroge Segal (USA), Maurizio Cattelan (Italy) and Sun Yuan and Peng Yu (China), as well as bonafide Aussie legends like Patricia Piccinini, Ron Mueck and Sam Jinks.

But for those of you that might not be all over what hyperrealism is, let’s do a quick crash course.

Patricia Piccinini
Eulogy 2011 (detail)
Warwick and Jane Flecknoe Bequest Fund 2015
Courtesy of the artist, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne and Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco

What is hyperrealism?

Hyperrealism is an art movement that gained steam in the early 1970s, kind of as an evolution of the photorealism that was in vogue during the 60s.

Its main schtick is creating paintings, sculptures and installations that, as the name suggests, look super realistic – almost as though you’re looking at a photograph.

But hyperrealism isn’t just paintings of apples that look heaps like apples. It often twists, manipulates and morphs reality to create an eerie rendering of real life.

AES+F | ARS New York
Courtesy the artists, MAMM
Anna Schwarz Gallery and Triumph Gallery

What can we expect at Hyper Real?

Hyper Real will take you on a journey from the birth of the movement in the 1970s through to its current and captivating form in the 21st century.

There’ll be everything from lifelike sculptures, to bio art, to mind-bending virtual reality.

It comes with a warning that “some of the images at this exhibition will be confronting”. And while that may turn some people off, this is exactly the reason we’re so excited for it.

Inverso mundus 2015
HD video installation © AES+F | ARS New York
Courtesy the artists, MAMM
Anna Schwarz Gallery and Triumph Gallery

Who are we most excited for?

We’re particularly pumped to see the work of Aussie artist, Patricia Piccinini.

Piccini is known for her diverse range of mediums, using everything from paint to digital to sculptures and everything in between.

Our favourite of Piccini’s masterpieces is her enormous, $300,000 ‘Skywhale’ hot air balloon.

Commissioned for the centenary of our nation’s capital, it’s a fascinating reflection on natural evolution that left critics divided (as all good art should!).

We can’t wait to see what she’s got in store for her return to Canberra!

Sun Yuan & Peng Yu
Old people’s home (detail) 2007
electric wheelchairs, fiberglass, silica gel
Courtesy of the artists

Speaking of controversial artists … did we mention Sun Yuan and Peng Yu?

The Chinese pair are infamous for working with seriously extreme material, like live animals and baby cadavers, to explore death and humanity through a truly unique lens.

Take a look at Old Person’s Home, which featured at London’s Saatchi Gallery. The shamelessly dark comedy takes aim at world leaders, transforming them into senile, drooling and helpless geriatrics.

The Hyper Real exhibition will be at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra from 20 October, 2017 – 18 February, 2018. Tickets are available at Ticketek, with prices ranging from $20-25.