Ron Mueck: 25 Years of Sculpture; The Gaze review – size isn’t everything The Observer's review of Ron Mueck's exhibition on view at Thaddaeus Ropac London
By Laura Cumming
(...) Mueck’s punctiliously super-real beings take an age to make, from their liver spots and silver stubble to the downy hair on forearm or cheek, and there are only nine works in this selected survey. But they vary in scale from the tiny Man in Blankets – a big bruiser reduced to the size of a newborn, curled in pink swaddling as if trying to return to the womb – to the gigantic skull titled Dead Weight. Every stage of life lies in between.
Some figures have been shown before. The black teenager incredulously touching the knife wound in his side, like a contemporary doubting Thomas. The woman lying on her back immediately after birth, staring at the strange infant on her chest, fists clenched as if stricken or dumbfounded. The elderly couple in their fading swimwear, sheltering from the sun beneath an outsize umbrella.
This is an art of narrative and whole-hearted emotion. You are not supposed to be baffled by these obvious staging posts in our common existence. Humanity is Mueck’s entire theme, as openly declared as his special effects are inscrutable. You can look into these faces and wonder how on earth he gets that red-rimmed exhaustion into a woman’s eyes, or that blankness in a boy’s dazed expression, while at the same time absolutely receiving and sharing those feelings. (...)