Ron Mueck – cognitive dissonance

Whoever is confronted with Ron Mueck’s work will experience a similar change of feeling: childlike curiosity, fright, disgust, alienation, amusement, but certainly not indifference. As a trained puppet maker, Ron Mueck has mastered the art of creating almost perfect illusions.

From latex, synthetic resin and real organic materials – even his own hair – he forms life-size, human-like figures. Although the term “life-size” should be seen in relative terms, Mueck uses anatomical distortion on the one hand and enlargement and reduction to scale on the other as a conscious, creative means. For it is precisely in the hyperrealistic depiction that the artist balances on a historically narrow degree. In the Renaissance, the depiction of seemingly real physical beauty was equated with divine qualities. In the Middle Ages, disfigured figures of suffering were created in painting and sculpture, which served as illustrations of Christian doctrine. In the course of the Enlightenment, human anatomy became the subject of empirical research. Artists who ventured too close to the depiction of “reality” always ran the risk of losing their artistic credibility and being degraded to a mere copier of an apparent reality.

The knowledge of Mueck’s dead sculpture is irritating enough, coupled with the queasy feeling of “being able to come alive at any moment”. Fascinating is the voyeuristic pleasure of an almost obscene observation of even the smallest human details from the shortest distance.

Mueck takes the step to the performing arts at the moment when the imprisonment of the human mind in its body overcomes the mere anatomical representation. Each figure tells the empathetic exhibition visitor its own hidden story. Mueck achieves the abstraction of anatomy to exactly the degree that the figures seem to breathe their soul into them.

An exhibition that will keep the visitor occupied for a long time.

Tobias Vetter