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Grumpy Cat Balloon Sculptures Gives Koons a Run for His Money

Adam Parker Smith transforms party balloons into busts reminiscent of antiquity.

by Diana Shi
Jan 21 2017, 5:40am

Hercules with Lion Headdress, 51 in. tall (without pedestal), resin and fiberglass preserved mylar, steel, 2016. All images courtesy the artist

Taut, incredibly shiny party balloons are repurposed to form the foundation of modern-day mythological busts. Bringing to mind an outrageous celebratory fete at a slick, coastal start-up, the oversized balloons are a gaudy, helium-filled imagining of a classic sculptural structure. Installation artist and sculptor Adam Parker Smith slyly incorporates mylar balloons into many of his works, including his marbleized foam piece Blowout and other three-dimensional wall works. Smith describes his latest works as “emulating Greek and Roman Hellenistic sculpture.”

Parker Smith spoke with The Creators Project about the aesthetic value of his modern-day sculptures. "From the front, the [busts] appear to be floating, precariously stacked Mylar balloons in humanoid form—the epitome of slick, shiny, ephemeral, and tacky. The backs of each sculpture, however, iare cut away and raw, revealing the messy reality of how they were made and yet simultaneously their permanence. Their buoyancy mimics the dynamism of classic sculpture that somehow makes marble look like striving human bodies."

Hercules with Lion Headdress, front and rear views

Flavian, 48 in. tall, resin and fiberglass preserved mylar, steel, 2016

Marcus Aurelius, 89 in. tall with pedestal, resin and fiberglass preserved mylar, steel, 2016

Heroine, 88 in. tall, resin and fiberglass preserved mylar, steel, 2016

The campy pop culture of big-box party supplies mixes with the finely-wrought craftmanship of Parker Smith's work, tricking the eye into assuming the busts are innately simple—not the case. The artist takes into account classic arts while dipping his toe into an artist favorite point of meditation: consumerism.

He explains, "The works question the canon of art history; references include Augustus of Prima PortaArtemision Bronze, Venus de MiloWinged Victory of Samothrace, [along with] a trompe l'oeil-like emphasis and [...] the idea of authenticity. By displaying the deceptive realism of the front of the sculptures, while stripping the balloon of its fragility from the back, the statues exploit the tension between real and fake. By stabilizing and reinforcing a material as fleeting as a balloon there is an emphasis on overconsumption and the planned obsolescence of objects."

Julius Caesar, 46 in. tall, resin and fiberglass preserved mylar, steel, 2016

Prick, 92 in. tall, resin and fiberglass preserved mylar, steel, 2016Caracalla, 83 in. tall with pedestal, resin and fiberglass preserved mylar, steel, 2016

Nero, 84 in. tall, resin and fiberglass preserved mylar, steel, 2016

Oblivious the Greek, installation view at Hole Gallery

To see more artwork from Adam Parker Smith, visit his site, here.

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