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Ron Mueck

November 20, 2005 ・ Blog

I went to a press viewing of two new exhibitions at the Fondation Cartier art gallery in Paris on Friday.

One was on MIT Media Lab professor and artist John Maeda, who makes computer generated imagery. Im not so sure it’s that interesting - a lot of it is essentially exquisite screen savers.

Rather more interesting was the exhibition of Ron Mueck’s hyper realistic sculptures. Their presence is incredibly disconcerting; their skin looks like it would be warm to the touch; their eyes look straight through you. It feels like you are intruding into whatever sombre thoughts they’re having.

The attention to detail is quite astounding. Skin is mottled and pallid. Some of the sculptures sport small pimples. Hair is awry, tights (like on the old ladies one pictured) are rumpled. The craftsmanship is beyond anything I’ve seen (Mueck was a “model maker and puppeteer for children’s television and films, notably the film Labyrinth for which he also contributed the voice of Ludo” (from Wikipedia)).

They’re all isolated, frozen at a moment of some sort of interior thought. Presumably Mueck had some sorts of stories or narratives in mind when he created them, though quite what these were doesn’t matter, to me at least. To a large degree they are blank canvasses on which you can place your own narrative, yet somehow they have an enormous amount of their own character at the same time.

These sculptures work on a emotional level rather than an intellectual one. My response to them was mostly based on their physicality. They’re an involving and intriguing spectacle rather than anything more profound, but they’re still remarkable and subtle.