Art Class: Petrina Hicks

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A shimmering example of the young artist in the Internet age.

Any new art discovery is a treat, but occasionally someone will challenge traditional archetypes in a way that’s especially exciting. Petrina Hicks is an Australian artist everyone should take the time to get to know. Her alluring images are as beautiful as they are intriguing.

Hicks has cleverly adopted a commercial aesthetic with her images that seduces you at first glance. Her work contains a strange tension created through conceptually complex images.

To look at Lambswool (part of The Descendants series) you have a wolf nibbling the arm of a young girl. Another artist might have distilled the image with a sense of danger, calling on you to grab the girl and protect her innocence against the ever-present “wolf”; but Hicks approached the subject with a somewhat creepy stillness. The girl’s abnormal perfection confuses our natural reaction, and as with all of Hicks’s work its purposeful lack of context makes it difficult to really understand the image’s intent.

Here in lies the cleverness of Hicks’s work. She intentionally creates subtle tensions that cause viewers to feel uneasy. It’s this sense of being unsettled that I love so much about her work—after all what’s the point of art if it doesn’t evoke emotion?

The included a selection of Hicks’ images give a wider impression of her themes and preoccupations: they’re full of historical references, but the simplicity of the visual content allows for individual interpretation. She’s smart, but she doesn’t insist on constantly reminding you. She leaves you alone with her work to interpret or simply appreciate the gentle aesthetics and intriguing imagery.

Being a shimmering example of the young artist in the Internet age she doesn’t stop at photography, she also does awesome video work with loops and slow motion. In The Chrysalis from her Beautiful Creatures series we’re taken on a hyper real experience of seeing a tongue licking flowers, saliva dripping everywhere. Like her work as a whole, it’s unsettling, but incredibly seductive.




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