I went to the Ron Mueck exhibition at NGV yesterday. It was extraordinary.
Ron Mueck is an Australian-born artist, who creates hyperrealistic sculptures at adjusted and unusual scales. He had a good education in the surreal and uncanny, working for Jim Henson as a sculptor and puppeteer (he played Ludo in Labyrinth - squee!).
The first piece - Dead Dad - was a very vulnerable naked replica of Mueck's father after his death. The sculpture is scaled down about 2/3, and is the only one of his sculptures where Mueck used his own hair.
There's almost no explanation about Mueck's work in the exhibition - we are invited to come to our own conclusions. One of the most fascinating things was seeing what caught people's attention: blood on the giant baby's toenails, the Wild Man's feet, the bunched brown stockings on the two old women. People saw their grandparents in some of the pieces, Christ in others, and themselves in many. It was the perfect kind of utterly democratic art - you don't need to be a critic to "get" it, and it means something different to everyone. There were plenty of children in the exhibition, and they too were fascinated - I suppose the constant reevaluating of your scale in relation to others is something that children are very familiar with.
But it was this piece that really caught me. I'm not sure why. Michael said it left him wondering if he was a normal sized man looking at a small man in a boat, or whether HE was a giant, and the man in the boat was normal sized. I just loved his vulnerable fragility, his dignity, his loneliness. It left me itching to write a fantasy novel. I might just go and jot down some notes now...