A 1-Minute Promo for the Hyper Real Exhibition showing in 2017-18 at the National Gallery of Australia. Features Ron Mueck's 'Pregnant Woman' being unpacked from her 2.5metre crate and installed for a press preview.

Video created by Sammy Hawker.

A levitating man, a genetically engineered baby, towering giants – welcome to humanity amplified. Featuring uncanny figures with painted silicon skin, glass eyes, human hair and cutting-edge digital art, Hyper Real provokes reflection, fascination, fear and joy. From eerily lifelike sculptures to out-of-this-world virtual reality, this major exhibition charts the evolution of hyperrealism into the 21st century. A compelling chronicle of the cycles of life and our constant need for connection, Hyper Real explores the fundamental question: ‘what makes us human?’

The exhibition presents major works from early American pioneers George Segal, John De Andrea and Duane Hanson, celebrated Australian artists Patricia Piccinini, Ron Mueck and Sam Jinks, international masters Maurizio Cattelan (Italy), Berlinde de Bruyckere (Belgium), Evan Penny (Canada), Sun Yuan and Peng Yu (China) and many more.

Hyperrealism, paralleling photorealism in painting, began in the 1960s and 70s when a number of sculptors became interested in a form of sculptural realism based on a vivid and lifelike representation of the human figure. From kinetic sculpture to bio art, this exhibition extends our perception of what constitutes the hyperreal.


Celebrating motherhood is a perennial function of art, but to come upon such a vivid likeness of a naked and heavily pregnant woman in an art gallery is a confronting experience. Our initial impulse is to avert our eyes, and yet the powerful presence of Ron Mueck’s Pregnant woman demands our attention. We are misled into thinking that the larger-than-life woman is alive – for varnishes and painstaking implants to the fibreglass body and silicone head achieve a miraculous replication of skin and hair – and are drawn into identifying with her, into experiencing the sculpture with reference to ourself.

The empathetic attraction comes from her size – at twice the height of many viewers, she seems to monumentalise the human – and from the extreme physical exhaustion conveyed in her posture, strain marks and facial expression. Her closed eyes and nakedness invite us to share her inward focus and on the child she is carrying.

As well as consulting anatomy texts and photographs, London-based Mueck worked with a model for three months, beginning when she was six months pregnant. The model gave birth before Mueck had finished the sculpture.