With the little people

Ron Mueck | Anthony d'Offay, London
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The Independent Online

Ron Mueck makes hyper-realistic models of people, he also messes about with scale. In this four-piece show, first you come across a smaller than life-size baby mounted on the wall, then a baby-size Bruce Willis-lookalike nestling in blankets, but it's the third exhibit that stops you in your tracks In a gallery of "his" own, sitting naked in the corner of the room with his elephant-size head close to the ceiling, knees drawn up so that his elbows can rest on them, is an unhappy-seeming man. His bizarrely realistic presence draws you close but not too close as with standing beside any large animal, you're aware that even a casual movement of one of these great bones, would be catastrophic if contact was made with your own body. But you become less cautious when you realise how introspective he looks. There's something wrong, something that his great size can't help him with. Indeed, the size just serves to magnify his vulnerability: you feel the same sympathy you would for any grand animal humbled. He's bal

Ron Mueck makes hyper-realistic models of people, he also messes about with scale. In this four-piece show, first you come across a smaller than life-size baby mounted on the wall, then a baby-size Bruce Willis-lookalike nestling in blankets, but it's the third exhibit that stops you in your tracks In a gallery of "his" own, sitting naked in the corner of the room with his elephant-size head close to the ceiling, knees drawn up so that his elbows can rest on them, is an unhappy-seeming man. His bizarrely realistic presence draws you close but not too close as with standing beside any large animal, you're aware that even a casual movement of one of these great bones, would be catastrophic if contact was made with your own body. But you become less cautious when you realise how introspective he looks. There's something wrong, something that his great size can't help him with. Indeed, the size just serves to magnify his vulnerability: you feel the same sympathy you would for any grand animal humbled. He's bald, and his skull is shaped more like an elephant's than a human's. Perhaps this symbolises his problem: in the modern world it's size of brain that matters, and there's just the suggestion that he's not got what it takes in the processing department, and is aware of this.

You step into the final gallery, encounter another shift in scale, and find that the emotional response that's already stirring becomes full-blown pity, Small, small, big, small, is the pattern of the show. But it's the single big that moves you, and makes the impact of the final small enormous.

* Ron Mueck: Anthony d'Offay Gallery, W1 (020 7499 4100), to 17 October

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