Friday, 5 February 2010

ARTIST ROOMS Ron Mueck @ Manchester Art Gallery

When was the last time art brought a tear to your eye?

The Ron Mueck exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery has restored my faith in contemporary art. It's easy to become disillusioned and begin to accept art as simply an enjoyable cultural habit. Today I have been reminded that art can be transcendently brilliant.

Wild Man is possibly one of the most wonderful things I have ever seen. It is stunning, astonishing, astounding, awesome ... I could go on listing words of this nature till the cows come home and never find one - whether a single word, several combined into a phrase or amalgamated into a new word - that satisfactorily described the effect that it had on me. Putting aside my faithful thesaurus, all I can say in that it moved me in a way I can only just begin to describe.

The huge, perfect-imperfect, feral form has an unsettling and almost intoxicating power in its stillness. Despite the palpable sorrow in the figure's eyes, there is something joyful and fearful in the oversized perfection of the form. It was like the slightly nauseating effect that minutely perfect photorealistic painting has on me, but amplified so many times.

Why did it make me tearful? These works are not crudely shocking, nor melancholic, but possess something else, something poignant and inexplicable. Perhaps they were almost the confused tears of a bewildered child? It’s times like these that I want to kick myself for not being Roland Barthe.

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