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These life sized self-portraits were Parr's first sortie into figurative sculpture. The first of them were tentative in feel but he quickly gained confidence to achieve striking likenesses. As he progressed he heightened the expressive quality to a mask like intensity and finally some of the likenesses were subjected to destructive gestures as if the material were being forged on an anvil. The likeness is reduced to abstract form.

The sequence in some ways reflects his approach to self-portraits in printmaking. The process of the form becoming and simultaneously being destroyed is constantly in tension in the material manipulation of the work. Parr modelled the pieces from the front but the absent image of the back of his head he moulded blind. The backs are by no means mute, they are as expressive as the fronts but the are formed by groping in the dark this approach bears some relationship to the dual aspects of his big drawings from the mid 1980s. In these the left side is anamorphic drawings distorted scientifically while the right hand side is expressive and employs haptic gestures. This dichotomy played out the functions of the conscious and unconscious mind or the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The bronze heads are raised up on plinths of beeswax. The cold metal of the heads suggests cold reason while the warm wax implies the body and material processes.

Details

  • Title: Bronze liars (minus 1 to minus 16)
  • Creator: Mike Parr
  • Date Created: 1996
  • Physical Dimensions: dimensions variable : a - 1; 123 x 40.4 x 40.5 cm b - 2; 122.5 x 40.3 x 40.3 cm c - 3; 111 x 40 x 40 cm d - 4; 122 x 40 x 40 cm e - 5; 183.5 x 40 x 40 cm f - 6; 187.5 x 40 x 40 cm g - 7; 178 x 40 x 40 cm h - 8; 194.5 x 59 x 40 cm i - 9; 142 x 54 x 40.5 cm j - 10; 180.5 x 40 x 40 cm k - 11; 176.5 x 40 x 560 cm l - 12; 178 x 40 x 56 cm m - 13; 178 x 40 x 40 cm n - 14; 176 x 40 x 54 cm o - 15; 176.5 x 40 x 40 cm p - 16; 194.5 x 40 x 40 cm
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Purchased 1996 © Mike Parr
  • Medium: 16 bronze and beeswax sculptures
  • Signature & Date: Not signed. Not dated.
  • Artist Country: Australia

Additional Items

Wayne Tunicliffe – formerly senior curator of contemporary art and now head of Australian art at the Art Gallery of NSW – shares some of his insights into the work 'Bronze liars (minus 1 to minus 16)' by Mike Parr

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