Ron Mueck makes hyper realist sculptures from fibreglass and resin. Almost all of them are of people, rendered in the most meticulous detail. The exhibition appealed to me on so many levels. The works themselves are all quite beautiful; wonderfully proportioned and balanced and coloured. They were well lit and intelligently exhibited, with bare white walls and skillfully placed screens and openings so that none of them unduly interfered with the others and so that they could be encountered at varying distances. Ron Mueck's craftsmanship is simply astounding. Every body hair and pore and crease has been exquisitely observed and rendered so that the humanity of the subjects is laid out with stiletto sharpness. They demonstrate an acuteness of observation which is the real gifting of the artist. These sculptures don't have the greasy, cross-eyed, bewigged sense of unreality of waxworks, but rather, demonstrate the shape and textures and colours and variety of people so authentically that I expected them to speak or move at any second. Except for one thing: scale. They are all very big or very small, and this gives them a sense of disjunction which allows them to speak so deeply. While the works are almost unbearably human, the size differential allows for a sort of objectivity; there is no sense of voyeurism or intrusion as they are studied and engaged with and admired. But perhaps more than that, the scale works with some deeply buried instincts and memories. The very large pieces are encountered much as small children must encounter adults: we see them and are unconsciously driven back to our own childhood relationships with the powerful, huge people in our lives; but now we are seeing through adult eyes and with the adult abilities to understand and to empathise. The very small figures usually speak of aging and death, but they diminish the fears associated with such terrifying prospects and invite us instead into compassion.
Near him is the head of the artist, just the head lying on it's side, sound asleep with the mouth slightly open and a tiny dribble of saliva escaping, and a few hours stubble covering the chin. The head is huge, and hollowed behind like a mask. Turn a corner and a heavily pregnant woman stands naked with her arms clasped above her head. Her face is wet with sweat and tears and shows the pain and terrible burden of pregnancy. Her expression encapsulates at once the great power and the great vulnerability of womanhood. She is eight feet tall and her pose evokes Atlas bearing the world but the great globe of the world is not above her, it is within her. She is a weight bearer, physically and metaphorically. Through a door is a newborn baby, umbilical cord still attached, the body still covered in blood and vernix and bearing the creases of the recent passage into life. The baby is about 3 or four metres long, and as she squints at the world with the perfectly captured, unfocused half gaze of the newborn, she is at once pathetically vulnerable and filled with enormous power and potential. Nearby a tiny man sits in a boat, personifying millennia of archetypes relating to journey and death. He quizzically peers past the bow, into life and death, adopting a pose and expression that is calm, and curious and appraising and intelligent and disconcertingly like mine as I encounter him.
I didn't stop and take any pictures. I thought instead about changes to be made. Ron Mueck's work has allowed me insight into myself and called me into change, as all great art should do.
(photographs are all taken from other sources. copyright is unknown)