DQ editor Alice Blackwood visits Ron Mueck’s solo exhibition at Melbourne’s NGV.
February 11th, 2010
It’s been a long time since I walked among giants… in fact, not since Roald Dahl’s ‘The BFG’ (Big Friendly Giant) have I engaged with giants in such an imaginative, stimulating manner.
But Ron Mueck has changed everything, and has catapulted me back to a child-like state of awe and wonder with his larger-than-life, and indeed, smaller than life, sculptures of human beings.
In his most comprehensive solo exhibition in Australia, now on show at the National Gallery of Victoria until 18 April, Mueck presents a meticulous and deeply investigative study of the human form.
From the very old to the very young… and interestingly not those age groups in between… Mueck’s life-like creations draw the viewer in, providing almost a mirror image of every pore, cell, follicle, wrinkle, and bead of sweat that defines our own bodies.
“Mueck’s sculptures range from puckish portrayals of childhood innocence to acute observations of stages of life,” says NGV Curator Australian Art, David Hurlston.
“Many are solitary figures, psychological portraits of emotional intensity and of isolation,” he says. And this is very true.
‘A Girl’ (2006) is a staggeringly huge newborn baby, accentuating every characteristic of a newly born human being, from umbilical cord to virgin toenails.
It is an emotionally moving, and also humbling, piece, and exemplifies the effect many of his sculptures have on the viewer.
It’s hard to imagine that each piece is meticulously hewn by hand, beginning with a series of sketches and small models. Mueck then models the human forms in clay, using only his hands and a few modelling tools, before casting them in polyester resin or silicone – sometimes both.
Renowned as a keen observer, Mueck’s ability to render those fine details of skin, hair, and eyes is unmatched.
However it’s his ability to inject the figures with the essence of life – you almost expect them to turn and talk to you – that makes his work unforgettable.
Ron Mueck is on show at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, until 18 April.
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