Things are not as they seem, when it comes to the mind-blowing artworks of London-based sculptor Ron Mueck. Seeing his larger-than-life sculptures of the human body for the first time, you’d be tempted to think you are looking at real-life giants.
Australian-born Ron Mueck is the so of two toy makers, so it’s really not very surprising that he opted for a somewhat similar career, making his very own toys, only on an infinitely more detailed level. He worked as a model-maker and puppeteer on children’s television shows for 15 years, and went on to create special effects makeup for movies like the 1996 fantasy “Labyrinth”, featuring David Bowie. In the 1990s, he started his own company, making models to be photographed for advertisements. Back then, most of his works were only partially completed, as they were meant to be photographed from just one angle, leaving a lot of loose material lurking around the areas captured by the camera lens. Ultimately, he decided photography destroys the physical presence of the original object, so he turned his attention to fine art and sculpture. A wise decision, as his hyper-realistic works of art have now won him international acclaim.
Ron Mueck has never made life-size sculptures, because it never seemed interesting. “We meet life-size people every day,” he says. Instead, he opted to play with scale creating towering giants while making sure they look as human-like as possible. From the color of their skin, to the tiniest wrinkles on their faces, every detail is accounted for, making his sculptures look eerily realistic. In the early sculpture-making days, the artist used latex as his main medium, and even though it worked for him, he was looking for something harder, more precise. Then, one day, he saw a pink little architectural decor on the wall of a boutique, and asked about the nature of the material. He learned it was fiberglass resin, and ever since then it’s remained his favorite art medium.
Asked about his relationship to the life-like giants he creates, whether he considers them almost human or just large mannequins, Ron Mueck said: “I don’t think of them as mannequins. On one hand, I try to create a believable presence; and, on the other hand, they have to work as objects. They aren’t living persons, although it’s nice to stand in front of them and be unsure whether they are or not. But ultimately, they’re fiberglass objects that you can pick up and carry. If they succeed as fun things to have in the room, I’m happy. At the same time, I wouldn’t be satisfied if they didn’t have some kind of presence that made you think they’re more than just objects.”