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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

“I never made life-size figures because it never seemed to be interesting. We meet life-size people every day.” - Ron Mueck

Mueck's work thrives off the conflation of the hyper-realistic and the surreal. His work conjures illusions of reality so precise and meticulous that they end up exceeding what we perceive to be real. It's a thin line - or is it - and it raises the question of how something that looks so authentic in every detail can also look so other-worldly. The simple answer, I believe, is in the manipulation of scale. Mueck's magnified and exaggerated visual appearances cross the border into the uncanny.

Thanks to its ts monumental scale and verisimilitude A Girl (2007) oozes an intensity that is unlikely to leave anyone indifferent: the smears of blood, the shiny stickiness of the placenta, the skin folds, the puffy face and that vaguely judgmental look newborns have in the first hours after their arrival into this world (can you blame them?). Looking at the representation of the miracle of birth in all its tenderness and gore delivered an equal split of amazement and repulsion.

However, the more I think about it, the more I feel that Mueck's undeniable virtuosity has left me hanging between admiration and doubt. Is his work thought-provoking and poignant or is it gaudy and shallow? Answers on a postcard because I honestly do not know.

#ronmueck #sculpture #hyperrealism #contemporaryart #fondationcartier #paris #artblog #beyondthecanvasblog

Ron Mueck

A Girl (2006)

Acrylic on polyester resin and fibreglass 110.5 x 134.5 x 501 cm

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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

“Mum, look - this one looks like you!" I turned around and saw an African American boy who can't have been older than 6 or 7 excitedly point his finger at Thomas J Prce'sxlarge female head placed in the Sculpture Gallery.

Surrounded by the likes of Rodin and Canova, Lay It Down (On the Edge of Beauty) (2018) stands out for the beauty of its distinctive features while blending in for its nod to classical style. It's like it's always been there, and maybe that's where it should stay (although I see from the label that it's on loan from the artist - please reconsider?).

The display continues downstairs in the Europe section. Luxury, Liberty and Power 1760-1815, reads one the blurbs. But whom for? This is why this display is so important and powerful. It is an act of justice and inclusion, a celebration of the underrepresented that highlights and addresses the erasure of the black presence in the museum and in history at large.

That kid's words still ringing in my ears, I kept thinking that is how you ultimately measure success - by everyone feeling seen, being able to relate to what they are looking at and learn from it.

Bravo Melanie Vandenbrouck

and everyone else involved in this brilliant and thought-provoking 'intervention’. display.

#thomasjprice #sculpture #victoriaandalbertmuseum #london #artblog #beyondthecanvasblog

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"His works tell important stories, prioritising aesthetics, poetry, movement and music as modes of communication." (from the exhibition booklet)

There, right there. The 'prioritisation of aesthetics' is so absolute and domineering, overwhelming even, that I found myself unable to remember what the message was. Social justice, the black queer experience? Sure, but Julien's videos are so intoxicatingly beautiful and polished that I just sat there, jaw dropped and mind befuddled.

His early film "Looking for Langston" (1989) tells the story of the iconic Harlem Renaissance founder through a lyrical, almost meditative lense. The 42' long video alternates Julien's work with original footage, and I sometimes wished I was watching a documentary instead.

Anyway, I'm being overly critical, although in fairness you do need both plenty of time and patience to sit through the installations, for which remarkably scarce seating has been provided.

Thinking of Langston Hughes, I was reminded of his poem Dreams, written in 1923. So concise, so poignant, so relevant.

#isaaacjulien #videoart #langstonhughes #dreams #contemporaryart #tatebritain #london #artblog #beyondthecanvasblog

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