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Australian art

Contemporary art

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The ventriloquist and his dummy



Mike Parr


1945 -

John Loane


23 Jun 1950 -


Drawing and printmaking have been a constant and important aspect of Mike Parr's practice from 1981 which is perhaps overshadowed, but nevertheless interrelated to, the artist's challenging performance art pieces from the 1970s, 1990s and 2000s. 'The ventriloquist and his dummy' 2000, featured in the exhibition Kooning, de Kooning... at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne in 2000 and belonging to Parr's ongoing 'Self Portrait Project' series (1982-present), continues the artist's meditation on the psychological, physical and social divisions between the 'self' and 'other'.

Parr manifests this meditation in a self-portrait that does not distinguish the subject from its association. Four large sheets of aluminium mounted with paper on canvas are woodblock printed in yellow and orange ink. Expressionistically drawn underneath in brush and red ink on the first panel is an elongated cranium with extraterrestrial features. On the third and fourth panels amongst a scurry of gestural brush-marks and splatters materializes a second facial form. One cannot determine whether Parr has assumed the role of the puppeteer and/or puppet in this ambiguous image; we deliberate with the artist his true identity and representation.




Media categories

Print , Drawing

Materials used

brush and red ink, woodblock print in yellow ink on Velin Arches 400 gsm paper bonded to canvas on aluminum


240.0 x 351.7 cm overall :

a - panel 1, 239.8 x 88 cm

b - panel 2, 239.9 x 88.1 cm

c - panel 3, 240 x 87.8 cm

d - panel 4, 239.9 x 87.8 cm

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. [panel 4], pencil "Mike Parr 2000".


Gift of Danny Goldberg 2013. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Mike Parr

Works in the collection


Artist information

John Loane

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history