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Archive for March, 2010

Ron Mueck: NGVI

NGV International until 18 April 2010

10am–5pm (Closed Tuesdays)

www.ngv.gov.au/ronmueck/

Also touring to Queensland Art Gallery 8 May to 1 August 2010 www.qag.qld.gov.au and Christchurch Art Gallery, 30 September to 23 January 2011 www.christchurchartgallery.org.nz

Ron Mueck is the master of realistic sculpture.  His lifelike people both scare and delight in their detail, the fine hair, carefully sprouting from the heads of his subjects.

I first came across Mueck’s piece Dead Dad (1997) in Saatchi’s ill fated Sensations exhibition. I was in high school art at the time and I was very excited about the Sensations that were going to rock the National Gallery of Australia. I was shattered when it got cancelled due to fear tactics of the less liberal minded in our community. I had spent hours reading up on the exhibition and was intimately acquainted with all the exhibits, Dead Dad, being one of them.

Upon walking into the first room of the NGVI’s current exhibition you are immediately hit by the size of Dead Dad. In the middle of the low lit room, a tiny naked man is lying on a white slab. The man is a cast from the corpse of Mueck’s dad, shrunk to a third of his original size. It is apparently the only work in which Mueck used his own hair. It is pathetic but at the same time, haunting and calm.

The exhibition brings together twelve works from collections around the world and includes four new ones. They range in size from the abnormally large to comically tiny. Watching visitor’s reactions to the works is part of the fun. A small crowd arranges itself around each piece, vying for the perfect camera angle. A girl (2006) fascinates and horrifies, a giant newborn baby, complete with cut umbilical cord. This work is definitely my favourite and I went back a few times to observe it from different angles.

The exhibition spans through all stages of human life, from death straight to birth and then the middle, a giant mother like figure sitting up in a bed in the descriptively titled Old woman in bed (2000). There is Youth (2009) and Drift, of the same year, an older man floating on a sunlounge mounted in the middle of a sky blue wall.

You can see Mueck’s talent as a former puppet maker in his non-human work Still life (2009). A naked chicken hangs on a hook from the ceiling, casting a gruesome shadow across the floor. The carcass is goosepimpled with stray hairs and is eerily life like. It’s enough to put me of the chicken sandwich in the NGV café!

Mueck is Australian born but lives and works in London. He represented Australia at the 2001 Venice Biennale and his work is held in collections around the world, yet many people would be unaware of his local heritage. In 2003 the National Gallery of Australia purchased Pregnant woman (2002) for $800,000, which was then the highest price for a living Australian artist. Not bad for an artist ‘discovered’ in 1996 by Charles Saatchi.

I suspect Ron Mueck will do well for a non-blockbuster spot at the gallery although the price tag might put a few off  ($16/$12).

Exhibition Factoid

A hunt around the internet reveals that aside from a background of puppetry, including working with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, the company created by Muppet man Henson; Mueck voiced the character of Ludo in the Labyrinth!

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Initial musings

Many art lovers often find reviews of art exhibitions full of confusing rhetoric. The aim of this blog is to demystify art exhibitions and write down to earth observations and interesting factoids to the artwork and artists.

Stay tuned in the next few days for some NGV, NGA and a little MCA!

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