Sunday, January 31, 2010

The New Still Lifes

Currently at the NGV International, twelve pieces are waiting for your attention. These pieces are so life like, that artist Ron Mueck could also be a magician. His works are so astounding and baffling, that viewers have a similar response to an audience witnessing a magic trick; they want to believe in the reality of what was just seen.

His pieces seem to suspend the subjects in a moment of time, frozen, yet not cold. As their presence conveys all the emotional, inquisitive, and thoughts built into this moment. It is amazing to feel so much from latex and synthetic hair.

I think that the realism of these pieces is what has catapulted Mueck into the International Contemporary Art world. In a society where everything is religiously documented to minute details, with most people owning digital cameras, iPhones, Internet and Facebook, it is no surprise that we subconsciously crave the same accurateness and precision of information in art again. And this is exactly what Mueck delivers.

This unbelievable likeness to life is contrasted with the monumental or minute scale of the pieces. It is this sense of proportion that Mueck uses to heighten the viewers’ awareness vulnerability and humility, creating very poignant reactions. One is constantly questioning the lifelessness of the piece, waiting intensely or hoping that something will happen. A blink, the hand twitches, but no, this is just our imagination. And it is this reaction, which I found so intriguing; so many people were baffled by this, that their interaction with the piece (staring, waiting, taking photos) was more that I have ever seen in one exhibition. First the viewer would judge the piece, and then almost instantaneously the piece would begin to judge back! Soon the other people in the exhibition became as much apart of the collection as Mueck’s twelve pieces. But this time; living, breathing, feeling works of art. Mueck not only address the facts of life (birth, emotion, pain, death) but actively relates and intrigues the society around it. Making him a truly astounding contemporary artist.


What: Ron Mueck
Where: NGV International, Ground Level, 180 St Kilda Road
When: January 22 till April 18 2010

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