Mueck, from Australia, has fascinated the world with his work since his debut on the art scene in the 90s. Currently working in London, the artist’s time in the UK is wonderfully present in the exhibition through delicate touches such as a Heinz baked beans can in the Sainsbury’s bag carried by one sculpture. Known for his hyperrealist work, Mueck mostly works in sculpture, churning out spitting images of real human beings at scales that range from the miniature to giant. Madame Tussauds should take note.
Mueck works with a variety of different materials, as demonstrated by the video placed at the end of the exhibition. Mueck is shown hard at work in his studio pasting layer after layer of clay lovingly onto the foundation of his sculptures, moulding as he goes. A resin comes next, and the realism of the sculptures we recognise from his exhibited works begins to shine through the lumpy mass. Mueck is infamous for his elusiveness; he has done perhaps one or two press interviews and shuns publicity. As such, this is a rare glimpse into the processes behind the finished result on show.
Near the entrance to the exhibition space is the first work, ‘Mask II’, a giant hyper-realist mask of a man’s face, said to be a self-portrait. No detail is ignored, from spots to painstakingly dyed hairs protrude grotesquely from magnified pores.
The artist, who began his career making puppets for children’s television programmes has certainly come a long way, only arriving at fine art after stints in model-making and animatronics. The mask is a good way to ease the public into the shocking style of Mueck’s work, which later in the exhibition adds details such as clothing, jewellery and furniture, which at any size, are no less realistic than the fleshy models he creates.
One of the exhibit’s standout pieces is undoubtedly an old couple reclining under a beach umbrella in swimwear, wrinkles and veins resplendent under the spotlight in the room. Another highlight is the plucked chicken hanging from the ceiling by a hook. However, the Mueck exhibition is full of surprises and ground-breaking work, and the exhibition is just as full of families as it is of art students and intellectuals, demonstrating its wide appeal.
It’s worth a trip as the first Mueck exhibition to come to South America – its next post will be in the Museum of Modern Art of Río de Janeiro from March until June 2014.
The Ron Mueck exhibition runs at Fundación Proa until the 23rd February 2014. For more information visit the website or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.