ron mueck is an australian-born, london-based hyperrealist contemporary artist. all his pieces are undersized or oversized for a subtle difference in perception. and the length he goes to reproduce the tiniest of details is hallucinating.
his early career was that of a puppeteer and prop maker. things changed when charles saatchi liked his work and helped him transition to fine art by buying and commissioning his pieces. mueck’s first break was his father’s post-mortem portrait, dead dad.
i was introduced to my first mueck in february 2006, while on a business trip in aarhus, denmark. i visited a few smaller museums and galleries and left the huge aros museum for last. they had recently opened a paul maccarthy show, but i was smitten by mueck’s 5m high boy. it was quite late so i had the piece to myself. i could inspect it as closely as i wanted. the details are so minutiously rendered that the off scale is the only thing giving the sculpture away. the pants are actually a tailored piece, the flexed feet are flawless, and so are the nails.
in 2012, i couldn’t miss the mueck mini-show of his latest work, on saville row, at hauser & wirth. there were only his 4 latest pieces, but they blew me away nonetheless. a big part of the experience is getting vacuumed into watching the sculptures closely only to be amazed by the unbelievable detailing.
my favourite mueck piece is in bed. it features a middle-aged woman, lost in thought and staring in the mid-distance. and i love his woman with sticks.
i also like his series of motherhood-related pieces, all demystifying the cute and pink expectations. they all go to depict a wider range of feelings, beside the only one usually portrayed: happiness. the babies and the mothers look weary and tired, exhausted by the experience. the new borns are not cute and cuddly as much as wiped out. the mothers don’t smile as much as close their eyes in distress. this is life without a marketing filter.
in my opinion, his work talks of age and of human nature in general. of the loneliness of being. and he pictures us, women and men, children and the elderly, as we are, imperfect and vulnerable. some argue that what mueck does is not art. but what his work makes me feel and think is the sign of a great artist. the pieces feel like presences to me, i think about their lives and i certainly draw parallels with my own. isn’t that what art does?
now that i introduced you (or perhaps not) to this breathtaking artist, i must tell you that you can see a great retrospective of his work in paris, at fondation cartier (16.04 – 29.09.2013). the show includes three new works.
do you like ron mueck? is his work challenging your concept of art?
photo and video credits: google credits, gautier deblonde