When Honor and I raced to ICU to see my mother in Ottawa, at the beginning of her swift decline, I wondered if she’d still be alive. We caught her as she opened her eyes for the first time and registered that we were there. She went to hostess mode and managed to whisper these seven words: “Market. Sauvagine. Gallery. Big things. Little things.”
We returned with a big wedge of her favorite cheese but I remained in the dark about the big and the little for a couple of weeks. My mother’s hospital was a few blocks from the National Gallery of Canada and I decided to drop in one afternoon and check out the travelling exhibit by an Australian sculptor named Ron Mueke. Oh yeah: big things and little things!
That baby’s head is at least fifteen feet tall. That’s what Mueck does — hyper-realistic human sculptures with the scale seriously skewed. My jaw hung around my pearls as I walked from room to room , dazzled and bewitched.
Is there a stronger word term than hyper-realistc? Something like super-duper-pooper realistic may be closer, but I don’t want to use such an inelegant term to describe Mueck’s craft — and art. Every wrinkle, every navel and pubic hair and placenta of his subjects is exposed –it’s powerful and never repels, even in the nude 3/4 sized image of his father naked in death. That’s the one time he used the subject’s real hair.
Mueck’s an Australian sculptor who began his career as a puppeteer and prop maker. For the bio check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Mueck.
Here’s a video that might make the scale clearer and give you an idea of his range of models. The elderly old dears stand about two feet tall and Mueck’s tenderness moved me. http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1973308/hyperrealism_art_ron_mueck/
Unless you’ve communed with Mueck’s tiny old ladies, his gargantuan nude homeless man, his amazon giving birth it might be easy to say: “Great craft, nice gimmick. Not art. ” But craft alone doesn’t make a quiet place in your soul, open your eyes and turn a gallery into a sacred space. Only art can do that.