Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

The Staggering Lifelike Sculptures of Ron Mueck! A Canadian Exclusive Presentation at the National Gallery of Canada

Ottawa - February 28, 2007

The National Gallery of Canada hosts from 2 March to 6 May 2007 an exclusive Canadian presentation of the work of renowned contemporary sculptor Ron Mueck. This exceptional Australian artist, a virtuoso of hyper realistic sculpture, has earned in a few years international recognition, from London, to Venice and Washington. In Ottawa, the exhibition is presented by the National Gallery of Canada Foundation.

For the past decade, the Australian-born London-based artist has been creating a personal, distinctive body of work whose startling power and strangeness have given a fresh impulse to contemporary sculpture. Created by the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain in Paris, this exhibition has provided Mueck with the opportunity to create a number of new sculptures, two of which are of gargantuan scale. At the National Gallery of Canada 16 sculptures created between 1996 and 2006 will be on view. Head of a Baby, Old Woman in Bed, Baby on a Chair and Mother and Child are being shown exclusively in Ottawa.

"The Gallery is honored to host Ron Mueck, an exhibition dedicated to the work of an undeniably talented artist who has been a proud part of the Gallery's collection since emerging on the international scene. We are very excited to offer to our Canadian visitors an exceptional collection of sculptures by such a talented contemporary artist," comments Pierre Théberge, Director of the National Gallery of Canada.

In his sculptures, Ron Mueck explores the often ambiguous relationship between reality and artifice in the contemporary world. Brilliantly employing the strategies of imitation and illusion, he creates figures that express the contradictions between the real world and the world of the imaginary. His figures are so lifelike that we instinctively expect them to begin breathing. Veins, wrinkles, sagging skin, moles, body hair, rashes: every detail has been crafted to such perfection that the remarkably convincing result is deeply troubling. The onlooker is automatically disconcerted by their size, always larger or smaller than human scale. Similarly, certain anatomical proportions may be stretched and accentuated, or the subject's posture might appear untenable. The artist's manifest sensitivity as well as his technical mastery of his materials enable him to create this ambiguous sense of realism. In addition to working with fiberglass, Ron Mueck uses silicone, a more flexible substance that allows the artist to create body parts such as hands and heads with astonishing accuracy and permits the implantation of individual hairs.

Yet the extraordinary subtlety of Mueck's work dwells first and foremost in its power to evoke, to suggest. Beyond their physical presence, Ron Mueck's figures express individual emotions and experiences. A piece of clothing, bed sheets or a boat provide clues to their personal history, suggesting an internal narrative. Mueck's work provokes an emotional response to the figure represented, eliciting memories of our own experiences. His characters may be prostrate, self-contained, drowsy or alert. They express states of repose, reflection or introspection that suggest apprehension and vulnerability. Through their emotional power, Ron Mueck's sculptures surprise and fascinate. The shock of the first glance is gradually replaced by the dynamics of imagination. These extremely subtle sculptures are meant to be observed slowly. Each of Ron Mueck's characters is a strange reflection of reality that incites the observer to explore his or her inner self.

Thomas P. d'Aquino, Chair of the Board of Directors of the NGC Foundation declares: " The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is pleased to support the exhibition Ron Mueck, a landmark presentation of the artist's compelling sculptural practice that successfully combines reality and artifice. Presenting an exhibition that showcases a decade of creation by this internationally renowned contemporary sculptor is also for the Foundation a wonderful way to highlight its 10th anniversary. We wish to take this opportunity to thank our numerous patrons and partners for their generosity and loyalty towards the National Gallery and its Foundation."

Catalogue and events
A bilingual illustrated catalogue, Ron Mueck, featuring a text by Robert Rosenblum and published by the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain at Paris-Actes Sud, is available at the Bookstore of the National Gallery of Canada. To further your experience of the exhibition a Bell audioguide, in French and in English, is also available.

Friday 2 March at 12:15 pm, Susanna Greeves, an expert on Mueck's art, will be giving a guided tour of the exhibition in English, while Jonathan Shaughnessy, assistant curator of contemporary art, will give one in French on 16 March at 12:15 pm. Theses activities are included with exhibition admission.

Organized by the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain (Paris), in collaboration with the National Gallery of Canada, the Brooklyn Museum and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The promotional texts were initially written by the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain.

The National Gallery wishes to thank its presenting sponsor, the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, and its media partners, namely Télévision de Radio-Canada, CBC TV, Le Droit, and The Ottawa Citizen.

National Gallery of Canada Foundation
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is dedicated to supporting the National Gallery and its affiliate, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in fulfilling their mandates. By fostering strong partnerships, the Foundation provides the Gallery with the additional financial support required to lead Canada's visual arts community locally, nationally and internationally. The blend of public support and private philanthropy enables the National Gallery of Canada to preserve and interpret Canada's visual arts heritage. The Foundation welcomes present and deferred gifts for special projects and endowments.

- 30 -