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Hany Armanious: Stone Soup

The Henry Moore Institute will reopen after refurbishment with a solo exhibition by Hany Armanious, one of Australia’s leading sculptors.

A sculpture of a table tennis on a stand which appears to be made from upright bottle corks

Hany Armanious: Stone Soup will be the artist’s first solo, institutional exhibition in Europe, and will include 30 works from throughout Armanious’ career, including nine made since 2023.

The Henry Moore Institute is delighted to present a solo exhibition by Hany Armanious, one of Australia’s leading sculptors. Born in Ismailia, Egypt, Armanious emigrated to Australia as a child in the late 1960s. The move led him to speak of his experience of a cultural shift that required him to relearn the world though its material language, as much as its spoken one.

Armanious’ sculpture practice reflects upon the joys of beholding objects for the very first time while unraveling any certainty of knowing the world through its things. His relentless enquiry into form is also a negotiation with the innovations and legacies of modernist sculpture.

A sculpture of a collection of coloured stones with what appears to be string wrapped around it
Hany Armanious, 'Mumble' 2023, pigmented polyurethane resin. Courtesy the artist and Fine Arts, Sydney.
Sculpture of leaves scattered around a polystyrene box
Hany Armanious, detail of ‘Image’ 2023, pigmented polyurethane resin. Courtesy the artist and Fine Arts, Sydney.

Armanious begins with what may appear a random selection of objects extracted from daily life — noticeboards, tabletops, candles, discarded building materials, or a section of domestic fencing. Uninterested in function or narrative, he seeks to strip found objects of inherent meaning in order to see them anew. To shake objects free of prior association, he takes them through an intricate, and often precarious, process of recreation, making a mould and then a unique resin cast to realise a new version of his starting subject. Meticulous attention is paid to colour, texture, scale, detail and form as the starting subject moves from one existence into another.

The recreations are near identical to their originals, although any infidelity via their fabrication is retained. Armanious’ extreme focus on a subject’s constituent parts is akin to repeating a word over and over until its meaning collapses and you are instead left with a series of sounds. His process effectively leaves original subjects behind, reconstituted as an accumulation of formal decisions in space — the fundamentals of sculpture and ways of apprehending the world.

Armanious uses both standalone objects and makes assemblages. His earlier works signal an ever-present art historical engagement. In Birth of Venus 2010 a pedestal base becomes the main subject, whilst celebrating the modest scrap of Gaffer-tape that it supports. Conversations about likeness and one thing standing in for another are also important.

Weeping Woman 2012 nods to Pablo Picasso through its subject, while also speaking formally to the elongated figures of Alberto Giacometti. A construction of palm frond stems are inverted to highlight their teardrop shape. Its base, a found, polystyrene block pitted from a chemical spill, now bears the scars of fallen tears.

More recently, The World 2023 was taken from an uprooted section of pavement, with its substrate still attached. Now inverted, its base becomes a plinth that presents the talismanic collection of stones, perfectly recreated like a scaled down cityscape. Many of his works come about simply by his playing with one or two different objects he has to hand.

Hany Armanious, 'The World' 2023, pigmented polyurethane resin. Courtesy the artist and Fine Arts, Sydney.

Mumble, also 2023, sees colouring crayons become entombed by a shoelace, like a series of Möbius strips. Throughout, while recreating the first encounter with objects, there is a provocation around ideas of the real and truth, ever-pertinent in the era of hyper-simulated realties. Whether as standalone objects and in an entire exhibition, Armanious playfully lays bare the fundamental decisions and processes of making and presenting sculpture.

A series of events will accompany the exhibition in autumn 2024. Full details to be announced.

“Armanious’ work provides a multitude of lenses through which to examine our binds to material culture, truth, knowledge and meaning, while revealing so much about what it is to be a sculptor.

“His constantly playful response to the world, and to the histories of his chosen medium, are enduringly refreshing. This exhibition will bring a comprehensive insight into the breadth of Armanious’ career to date.”

Laurence Sillars, Head of the Henry Moore Institute

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Henry Moore Institute

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Henry Moore Foundation

Kitty Malton
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Notes to editors

Portrait photo of Hany Armanious, a bald man wearing clear-rimmed glasses. He is sat down in a chair holding a small piece of modelling clay.
Portrait photo of Hany Armanious. Image courtesy the artist, Phillida Reid, London and Fine Arts, Sydney. Photo: Jessica Maurer.

About the artist

Hany Armanious lives and works in Sydney. His work has been exhibited and collected throughout Australasia, Europe and North America. Armanious represented Australia at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011.

His selected solo exhibitions include Fine Arts, Sydney (2024); Michael Lett, Auckland (2022); Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2018); Southard Reid, London (2016); City Gallery Wellington, (2014); Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery (2013); Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne (2012); MCA Sydney Sculpture Terrace, Sydney (2012); Foxy Production, New York (2010); Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis (2008); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane and City Gallery Wellington (2006-07) and The Hammer Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles (2001).

Selected group exhibitions include Future Eaters, MUMA, Melbourne (2017); Mutatis Mutandis, Secession, Vienna (2012) and Busan Biennale, Korea (2007).

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