ELLI LORI REPORTS RON MUECK HAUSER & WIRTH, SAVILE ROW 19 APRIL-26 MAY 2012
Hauser & Wirth presents a solo exhibition by the Australian born artist Ron Mueck. Even if the exhibition consists of merely few of his art works, his innovating style still captivates the viewers, inviting them to offer their own interpretations to those magnificent art works. ‘Woman with Sticks’, ‘Youth’, ‘Drift’ and ‘Still Life’, are exemplifying his artistic uniqueness that is mostly associated with a distinct form of realism. One can easily trace the affecting use of scale as well as his concern with space and placement. His subjects might be drawn from contemporary culture, but Mueck addresses and explores themes devoted in art history.
Once you enter the gallery space you are encountered with ‘Drift’, a colorful small-scale sculpture that due to its placement on the walls as well as
the lighting of the space creates an illusionistic effect, allowing the viewer to see the art work as if it disappears along the distance. ‘Drift’ is a sculpture of a tanned man, wearing swim shorts and sunglasses, lying on a lilo with his arms outstretched. One would expect to see such a depiction in a swimming pool setting, but rather, the fact that the sculpture is unexpectedly installed highly on the wall, exemplifies Mueck’s concern with space and placement.
‘Woman with Sticks’ is representing a middle-aged woman struggling to contain an unwieldy bundle of sticks that are nearly twice her size. The naked woman is characteristically linked with the world of myth and magic, as well as fairytales and legends. The nakedness of the woman might be a reference to Modernists such as Cezanne and Gauguin, whose work was informed by the ‘eternal feminine’. Nevertheless, the sculpture does not tackle issues of classical beauty. Moreover, the realistic representation of the skin, hair and especially the body, have a distinct association with Courbet. The fascinating aspect of ‘Woman with Sticks’ is the sense of action and energy of the woman that consequently gives life to the motionless sculpture.
‘Youth’ is a sculpture of a young boy wearing low slung jeans and a white T-shirt with a blood stain. As the boy pulls up his shirt, he reveals an open stab wound in his side. The expression of the young boy suggests the innocence of childhood but at the same time exemplifies the mystery of mortality as experienced by youth.
Death and decoy are the themes of the last sculpture entitled ‘Still Life’, representing a dead chicken suspended from the ceiling. Featherless, the chicken is hung by its bound feet, enlarged to human size. Even if the title is referring to the still life as a genre in artistic practice, the sculpture itself does not suggest so. However, ‘Still Life’ is another encounter with Mueck’s masterly works.
With a truly distinct form of realism, Mueck is presenting various themes that enable the viewer to depart from reality and enter an imaginative narrative as illustrated by this fascinating artist. The exploration of scale in relation to his subjects, the viewer as well as the placement, encourage the addressees to identify with the human condition.