But is it art? Terrifying “hand man” divides locals in Wellington

Many New Zealanders were shocked when a five-metre-tall hand man appeared overnight via helicopter on the roof of the City Gallery Wellington.

Despite the appearance, some aren’t fans of the nonchalant expression that appears on the face of the art piece.

The odd piece was created by New Zealand-born but Melbourne-based artist Ronnie van Hout who modelled the 400kg “partial self-portrait” based off scans of his body.

City Gallery Wellington couldn’t be more thrilled with its new resident, tweeting:

“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No – Qausi has landed!”

“His work explores the freak, the outsider, the reject. It’s as if ‘the hand of the artist’ has developed a monstrous life of its own,” it reads.

The artwork has been secured at a $70,000 cost to the city, including transporting the hand across the country as well as weather-proofing the structure.

Gallery chief curator Robert Leonard told Stuff NZ about Quasi.

"Quasi suggests something that's fake, or wrong. But also it's a reference of Quasimodo, the hunchback, in The Hunchback of Notre Dame," Leonard said.

"In Wellington, Quasi will be looking out over Civic Square where so many of the buildings have been closed ... and I think that will affect the way people interpret the sculpture.

"It's really interesting how the work plays off its loathsomeness, its disfigurement, its hideousness and almost asks to be loved."

Leonard is aware of the unusual nature of the statue and think this will play into people’s own fears and anxieties.

"It drew such a bizarre range of interpretations when it was on display in Christchurch and that's really quite intrinsic to the meaning of the work, that people don't know how to interpret Quasimodo. They project their own fears and anxieties."

The portrait was initially commissioned in 2016, and Wellington Sculpture Trust chairwoman Sue Elliot says he’s not going anywhere, at least not for the next four years.

"Quasi is not a pretty work and that is part of what Ronnie was trying to achieve. It's very unusual, it's of a really large scale and will sit over the Square and be on the Wellington skyline.

"I think people will be arrested by it."

Scroll through the gallery to see more pictures of Quasi.

Photo credits: Stuff NZCityGalleryWellingtonCity Gallery NZMarianne Elliot