Paola Pivi: You started it…I finish it

Paola Pivi_You started it   I finish itA sleuth of giant, fluorescent and feathered free-spirited polar bears will greet visitors to the National Gallery of Victoria’s Federation Court this winter in a major suite of new sculptural works by Italian artist Paola Pivi.

Paola Pivi: You started it…I finish it is an installation encompassing eight life-size sculptures of bears, adorned with neon-coloured feathers. These flamboyant figures adopt various attitudes and guises, playfully occupying the space of Federation Court.

Greeting visitors, posing and frolicking: one bear leaps from a balcony; others approach each other as if to dance, or engage in deep philosophical conversation, whilst others recline in joyful, carefree abandon.

Sculpted from urethane foam and adorned with psychedelic plumage, Pivi’s carefully modeled figures are each accorded a distinct personality and body language. Together they create a marvellous, enigmatic scene – of baroque excess and surreal desire, recalling fables and fairytales, dreams and allegories, where unexpected forms become strangely familiar and the pleasure principle prevails.

“Federation Court will surprise and delight visitors this winter with the whimsical sculptures of Paola Pivi,” says Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV.

“As an adjunct to our Melbourne Winter Masterpieces exhibition, Italian Masterpieces from Spain’s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, it provides an opportunity for visitors to view a broad selection of Italian art from the traditional to the contemporary.”

You started it…I finish it continues Pivi’s characteristic playfulness, her interest in narrative, myth and rumour, and the creation of indelible images which echo in the imagination. As with much of her work, You started it…I finish it also invokes an animistic, other-worldly spiritual wonder, coupled with a deep concern about the vulnerability of the natural world.

Paola Pivi: You started it…I finish it is the latest instalment of a series of commissions by leading international artists for Federation Court and will be on display in Federation Court at NGV International from 28 May to 31 August 2014. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Paola Pivi Italian 1971 – It’s not fair 2013 (detail) from OK, you are better than me, so what? urethane foam, plastic, feathers 122.0 x 245.0 x 64.0 cm © Paola Pivi, courtesy Galerie Perrotin – photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli