Petrina Hicks’ Beautiful Creatures appeals to our senses. Immediately alluring the large-scale, hyper-real photographs, are all rendered so clearly and with such control they are reminiscent of advertisements, promoting a slick new television series perhaps, or teen clothing range. But with a series of little ruptures, within images and between them, Hicks disrupts our usually beguiled response to such artistry. For her, photography’s capability to both create and corrupt the process of seduction and consumption, is of endless interest.
Hicks loads her images with history and associations but denies us a clear message. Along with the ambiguity, there is a visceral quality in these new works, her depiction of flesh, hair and veins stops the viewer short of being lulled into consumption.
Hicks engages a playful yet confronting approach to confound our expectations. A cat, naked without fur, in the image Sphynx, contrasts a beautiful blonde with a face full of it in Comfort. In Emily the Strange the hairless creature reappears with a young girl whose piercing green eyes, skin-pink dress, and latent defiance, make her eerily akin to her pet. Alluded to with the title of the exhibition, this duality is present in much of the work. Her subjects are not simply beautiful or simply creatures.
Finally, in The Chrysalis, a video work filmed on Phantom high-speed camera at 800 frames per second she takes us beyond seduction. The cliché imagery of flowers, so fresh they gleam with dew, is perverted as Hicks’ model lavishly licks a bloom, her perfectly dripping saliva captured in glorious detail and high resolution.
Petrina has exhibited her work widely through both solo and group shows in Australia, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, USA, UK, Japan, China, Mexico and Brazil. Recently, her work was selected to be exhibited in the 17th International Videobrasil(Brazil) and at the Pingyao International Photography Festival (China).
Petrina’s works belong to various public and private collections including: AGNSW, Queensland Art Gallery, Tweed River City Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Victoria. She has been awarded various notable prizes and residencies including the Josephine Ulrick Photography Award for Portraiture, 2008 ABN Emerging Artist Award, La Cite Paris Residency through the Art Gallery of NSW and an eight month fellowship with Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany.
To view more of Petrina’s work please visit her website.