How many times in front of a sculpture have you happened to say or think, “It looks alive!“? Well, that phrase (in Italian “Sembra vero!”) is precisely the title of the exhibition celebrating hyperrealism in the beautiful rooms of Palazzo Bonaparte in Rome. There are 29 international and contemporary artists exhibiting more than 40 works in a path that oscillates between reality and fiction, capable of surprising and “deluding” the viewer step by step. For the first time in Italy, big names such as those of Maurizio Cattelan, Mueck, George Segal and Carole Feuerman come together with the intent to provoke the public and lead them to discussion.
When confronted with such real works, edited down to the smallest detail, our brain sends an initial “staggered” message and informs us that what we are looking at is real, even though we know perfectly well that it is not. This is the magic of hyperrealism, an artistic current born in the 1960s that takes the concept of the real in art to the extreme, surpassing what Realism is.
The exhibition traces the history of hyperrealism in six sections. From Duane Hanson and John DeAndrea (1960s) to the contemporary, through Ron Mueck (1990s) to Evan Penny and Patricia Piccinin. An entire mirrored room is dedicated to Maurizio Cattelan‘s work “Ghosts,” his famous stuffed pigeons.
The presence of international contemporary artists from all over the world testifies to how widespread hyperrealism still is today and how it is able to communicate in a forthright and sometimes shocking way.
The works mostly reproduce human or animal figures, as in the case of Carsten Höller’s “Octopus,” which verges on reality. The bodies and faces, like Andy Warhol‘s in Kazu Hiro‘s sculpture, want to be touched, almost to convince us of their fiction. The eyes watch us, follow us, managing almost to disturb us. Shape is the file-rouge that accompanies the entire exhibition, investigated as tangible matter, subject to changes, transformations and alterations.
A thought-provoking exhibition about how sometimes fiction and illusion can be sincere and authentic. Curated by Maximilian Letze in collaboration with Nicolas Ballario, “Sembra verol!” is on view until Oct. 8, 2023.