Hany Armanious

B5 Media Ltd
Art World, 2008, Issue 8, pp. 74 - 80
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Hany Armanious was chosen to represent Australia in the 54th Venice Biennale (2011). Armanious' work appears, at first sight, to consist of hastily constructed sculptural assemblages of mundane objects and detritus. On spending time with the work, a close observer comparing the objects might realise that none of the materials are what they appear to be. Styrofoam, wicker and plastic are all painstakingly recast in silicon, resin and bronze; and recast so meticulously that the works often demand to be touched to confirm or deny the illusion. The concealed care with which they are manufactured gives Armanious' work a peculiar presence, a kind of aura that works slowly and cryptically rather than overtly and aesthetically. The effort embedded in the works, and the substitution of precious materials for worthless ones, grants the works a kind of agency that rewards sustained reflection. In 2008, some two years before the announcement of his selection, I conducted a series of interviews with Hany Armanious in preparation for a profile in Frieze magazine, 'Pragmatic Metaphysics' (2008). Although Armanious was well known amongst practicing artists beforehand, the finished article coincided with (and arguably contributed to) his increasing prominence. In response to the publication of the Frieze article, Artworld commissioned a review of the show 'Uncanny Valley' in 2009. In 2010, I was approached by the commissioner for the Venice Biennale, Doug Hall, to write a catalogue essay for the Australian Pavilion show entitled 'The Golden Thread'. This ongoing engagement with Hany Armanious' work cumulatively presents a depth study, a kind of longitudinal study into a single significant contemporary artist.
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