Ron Mueck: Hyper-Reality at Christchurch Art Gallery

Ron Mueck’s hyper-real sculptures have enthralled audiences all around the world – and now they are coming to New Zealand. From October 2nd, audiences can catch the National Gallery of Victoria touring exhibition, Ron Mueck, at Christchurch Art Gallery. Christchurch is the only New Zealand venue, and this is the first time Ron Mueck’s works have ever been exhibited in this country.

Ron Mueck features 13 hyper-realistic sculptures of people from birth and childhood through to adolescence and old age. Christchurch is also showing the National Gallery of Australia’s renowned  Pregnant Woman – not available for the extended tour – making this the largest exhibition that the Australian-born, London-based sculptor has ever presented in the southern hemisphere. Indeed, it is the first time the entire downstairs of Christchurch Art gallery will have been allocated to a single exhibition.

As well as many of the artist’s iconic sculptures such as Dead dad, Wild man, Mask II, A girl, and In bed, the exhibition also features four new works, seen for the first time in this touring exhibition - Drift, Woman with sticks, Youth and Still life.
When the exhibition opened in Melbourne earlier this year, it received 120,000 visitors. A similar response has been received in Brisbane, with 85,0000 people visiting the Queensland Art Gallery since the exhibition opened in May.

“The attendance figures for Ron Mueck in Australia have gone beyond expectations,” says Christchurch Art Gallery Director Jenny Harper. “People have literally been queuing out of the door in Melbourne and Brisbane for a chance to see these works.
“As the only New Zealand venue, we are expecting large crowds to come and experience this must-see exhibition.”

Ms Harper, who attended the launch in Melbourne in January, says audiences will be amazed at what they see. “These sculptures look fascinating in photographs, but when you see them ’in the flesh’ it’s another thing altogether. From pores on the skin to the reality of the finger nails, no detail has been ignored. And the shifts in scale, with some figures very large and others very small, intensify the effect into something quite fantastic.”

Ron Mueck was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1958, but has lived in London for the past twenty years. He started out his career as a puppet maker. However, in 1996 he came to the attention of British advertising guru Charles Saatchi, who commissioned three works including Mueck’s Dead Dad, shown as part of the history-making Royal Academy exhibition Sensation in London in1997. Since then, he has become one of the most significant figures in the contemporary art world, wowing visitors to the Venice Biennale in 2001 and breaking all records with his exhibition at the Cartier Foundation in Paris in 2006.

 “Once you’ve seen these works, you will never forget them,” Ms Harper says.

Ron Mueck is a National Gallery of Victoria touring exhibition and will be at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu from 2 October 2010 until 23 January 2011.