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Hany Armanious

Split Fountain  2009

cast polyurethane, cast pewter, cast earthenware, pigment

81 × 93 × 45cm

Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the artist, 2010

2010.38

About the Artwork

This ordinary bedside table has been cast in pigmented expanding foam in a single pour creating the effect of laminated wood veneer. It acts as an informal support for a sculpture of a type of sphinx.

Split Fountain was shown at the 2009 exhibition Uncanny Valley at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney. The title of the exhibition comes from a term coined in the 1970s to describe our antipathy towards things that look almost, but not quite, human: the ‘valley’ is the steep dip in empathy we experience when confronted by a robot or a 3D computer animation of a person that is not wholly convincing.

Split Fountain was one of several sculptures of sphinxes in this exhibition, where the structure of the sphinx serves as a model to explore the dislocation of head and body, object and plinth, both physically and conceptually. In Spit Fountain the sphinx has been mirrored doubling the motif so that it resembles the ancient deity Janus who guards doorways and is usually represented with two faces looking both forward and backward.

Updated and approved August 2016.

Hany Armanious

– About the artist

Born 1962, Ismailia, Egypt. Lives and works Sydney.


Hany Armanious is a sculptor whose work is predominantly concerned with the magical properties of the casting process. Many of his works deal with the alchemical transformation of one object into another via what the artist has described as the ‘cult of casting’.[1]

Armanious represented Australia in The Golden Thread at the 54th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (2011). His selected solo exhibitions include Selflok, City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand (2014); we go outside, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2013); The Golden Thread, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne (2012); Fountain, MCA Sculpture Terrace commission, Sydney (2012); Birth of Venus, Foxy Production, New York (2010); Uncanny Valley, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2009); The Oracle, Contemporary Art Museum, St Louis (2008); and Morphic Resonances, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane and City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand (2006–07). Selected group exhibitions include Busan Biennale, Korea (2007); National Sculpture Prize, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2006); and Selflok, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2003).

Armanious is represented in numerous collections of Australia’s major state and national galleries, as well as the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, New Zealand; Dakis Joannou Foundation, Athens; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

[1] Hany Armanious, The Cult, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, 2004.

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