Ron Mueck’s hyperreal sculptures replicate the human figure in minute detail, with a haunting accuracy designed to challenges the viewer’s perception of reality. Despite their apparent truthfulness to life, Mueck’s figures are not life-size, rather their gargantuan or miniature dimensions accentuate an ambiguous relationship between expectations, visual perception and accepted truths. Theyare imbued with psychological traits, such as vulnerability or physical exhaustion, to elicit empathy between the viewer and the subject. Their poses are not classical or ‘frozen in time’ but reflect a condition of stasis or inertia – an emotional state of introspection, melancholy, and sometime a paralysing anxiety.

Wild man, 2005, is informed by Mueck’s German heritage, his knowledge of European medieval mythology, and the stories of the Brothers Grimm. The concept for Wild man was fully realized after Mueck saw Appennino, 1579, by Flemish sculptor Giambologna, a colossal, kneeling figure 11 metres high, located in the gardens of the Medici palace Villa Pratolino in Tuscany, Italy.

Known as the ‘woodwose’ in Celtic lore, the wild man is a figure of gigantic proportions typically depicted with a wooden club and full body hair. Antithetic to the civilised and known world, he was a symbol of the dark and mysterious challenges of the wilderness.

Image: Ron Mueck, Wild man, 2005, fibreglass resin, silicone, nylon, synthetic thread, plastic, metal, wood, 285 x 162 x 108 cm. Purchased through the Elisabeth Murdoch Sculpture Fund and The Balnaves Foundation, 2007. Photo Mark Ashkanasy.

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