by: Kate Messinger
Looking in the eyes of one of Ron Mueck’s hyper realistic sculptures is both jarring and personal, a split second where you connect and fear the thing in front of you that is so familiar, yet so alien. Mueck’s human sculptures, now on show at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art Contemporain in Paris until September 29th, are so real that you feel you must touch them to make sure the artist has not conducted some mortal sin by putting actual people on display.
But as you stare closely, examining the perfectly placed eyelashes, the natural pulling of skin and creases of wrinkles, you realize that what makes these sculptures so human is not their perfectly crafted bodies and facial features. After all Mueck’s people are bizarrely shrunk to miniature or extremely over sized so there’s no question of reality after first glance, but what makes them so easy to connect to, so relatable, is the true sadness in their eyes. You can imagine seeing these sculptures alive, passing anonymously on the street or sitting in a subway car. You wish you could reach out to them, ask where they were going, what they eat in the morning, if anyone loves them at home. These sculptures are too surreal to mistake for life, but the characters that Mueck creates, the personalities and stories he brings to each sculpture have made them almost one of us.