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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Adams Apple, 2013 by Petrina Hicks
Adams Apple, 2013 by Petrina Hicks

‘Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation … Tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a grey vegetation’.

Jean Arp, ‘Sacred Silence’, On My Way (ed. Robert Motherwell, 1948)

Across photography, painting and drawing, Petrina Hicks, Robin Eley, and Yanni Floros examine how we distance ourselves from our humanity in contemporary life. Flattened and defined by form and colour, Petrina Hicks’ photographic series Greyscale emphasises the artificiality and fragility of the human body existing between ‘being’ and ‘object’. Painted in oils and segregated from their fellow humans in cellophane prisons, reference points removed, it is not certain whether the naked figures could be unwrapped, are about to be subsumed, or will forever be suspended in a plastic stasis – this is the question Robin Eley poses of our contemporary humanness in this age of digital materialism. In Yanni Floros’s charcoal drawings all sense of intimacy, empathy or vulnerability is denied by the complete immersion of the girls in their own world. How do you approach these humans? You are left simply with the texture and fall of their hair and clothes to make a connection.

11 portraits

1 Omega, 2013 by Robin Eley. 2 Black Swan, 2013 by Yanni Floros. 3 Re-Birth, 2013 by Petrina Hicks. 4 Ego, 2013 by Petrina Hicks. 5 One vase, 2013 by Petrina Hicks. 6 Two vases, 2013 by Petrina Hicks. 7 Devotion, 2013 by Robin Eley. 8 Graven, 2013 by Robin Eley. 9 High Horse, 2014 by Yanni Floros. 10 Look Closer, 2013 by Yanni Floros.

Related information

Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks
Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks
Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks
Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks

In the flesh

Previous exhibition, 2014

In the flesh is an enthralling and immersive experience of contemporary art that confronts the concept of humanness and the experiences of consciousness and emotion. Featuring ten Australian artists including Jan Nelson, Patricia Piccinini, Ron Mueck and Michael Peck, the exhibition explores themes of intimacy, empathy, transience, transition, vulnerability, alienation, restlessness, reflection, mortality and acceptance.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night

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Phone +61 2 6102 7000
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency