AUG 17 – Pop Hyperrealism

   Before entering the beautiful space of Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain designed by one of the greatest French architects, Jean Nouvel, on Boulevard Raspail, you get a glimpse at the inside through the garden and glass facade of an elderly couple. They are placed at the center of the room and are the opening act. Ron Mueck exposes two huge figures that we suppose are at the beach, a place where bodies are fully exposed. He is contrasting with the environment in which we are, which reveals a sort of “absurd comedy”, to quote Justin Paton. Despite the absurdity caused by the subject and the choice of scale, there’s a certain tenderness. The contact of the two bodies reveals intimacy, without any facial expression. 

Couple under an umbrella
Edtion 1/1, 2013
Mixed Media / 300 x 400 x 350 cm 
Courtsey Hauser &Wirth/Anthony d’Offray, London

   Ron Mueck (Australia, 1958) has been living in London since 1986. When looking at his work, you understand that he is someone who likes to take his time to work, in order to end up with something extremely realistic. What makes his work more astonishing is the change of scale. He is a mix of pop art and hyperrealism. Mueck has a rich diversity of sources: press photographs, comic art, history monuments… He works on traditional nature morte, on witchcraft, on self-portrait…

   When I was still beside the couple, I sat down and looked at people’s reaction to the work, which was priceless. Most of the people wanted to touch them and see what they were made of, others wanted to stroke their hair, some were pointing and laughing, some were in awe and some simply found their hyperrealism to be banal.

   The second room was a bit disturbing, because the first thing that jumps in your face is a featherless, hung upside down chicken. The artist rarely deals with non-human figures. But this traditional nature morte (inanimate objects) is unique and spectacular. Pictures of Swine Flu invaded our medias. Mueck admits seeing something human in these tiny creatures aligned in this strange position, hung on a hook, by men. Worked on on a HUGE scale, this work gave the artist a chance to explore more materials and textures. 

Still Life
Edtion 1/1, 2009
Mixed Media / 215 x 89 x 50 cm 
Courtsey Hauser &Wirth, London

   Woman with sticks represents a naked woman bend over backwards. The softness of her skins contrasts with the dry, rough wood; her facial expression gives a feeling of serenity. The small scale suggest a worrying strangeness suggests a feasible and allegorical world. 

Woman with sticks
Edtion 1/1, 2009
Mixed Media / 170 x 183 x 120 cm 
Courtsey Hauser &Wirth, London

   Also in this room is the Woman with shopping bags, which deals with the relation between a mother and her child. Mueck witnessed this banal and daily scene in the street. The woman is holding a baby against her chest and shopping bags in both hands. It creates a certain balance, that generates the position of two people and forbids any tenderness between the mother and her baby. 

Woman with shopping bags
A/P 2013
Mixed Media / 113 x 46 x 30 cm 
Courtsey Hauser &Wirth/Anthony d’Offray, London

   The second part of the exhibition, which takes place downstairs, starts off with Mask II. The imposing dimensions contasts with the fragility of the chosen moment: the bigger the work is, the more vulnerable it is. This mask that resembles the artist’s face is dreaming, silent and defenseless. It also suggests an intellectual restlessness provoked by sleep. 

Mask II
A/P 2002

Mixed Media / 77 x 118 x 85 cm 
Anthony d’Offray, London

   Along with the visitor, a young man discovers he is hurt and he is bleeding. Despite the violence of this sculpture, Youth is very delicate: he looks sweet, his feet have a certain finesse.  The choice of a small scale suggests a childish character, almost innocent. Mueck claims to have been influence by The Incredulity of St Thomas, by Carvage, in which St Thomas observes and touches the injuries of Christ. 

Edition 1/4, 2009

Mixed Media / 65 x 28 x 16 cm 
Private Collection

      As for Woman with sticks, the situation described in Man in a boat is definitely not a daily or ordinary situation. The man is placed in a small boat. The change of scale, the nudity, the attention or preoccupation of the look: many details suggest a familiar scene that however doesn’t belong to the real world. This mysterious work creates images at the same time personal and collective, antique and contemporary, singular and universal.


Man in a boat
Edition 1/4, 2009

Mixed Media / 149 x 138 x 425,5 cm 
Anthony d’Offray, London

   Compared to the previous work, Young Couple represents an ordinary street scene, where two people seem to be walking together. At first sight, everything seems normal. But with its small scale, this couple creates empathy, a protective feeling. But looking at them from behind, the grasp of the hands reveals the central point of the composition. We do not know if it’s violent or tender, aggressive or affectionate. This position let’s the visitors  create his own interpretations. 

Young Couple
Edition 1/1, 2013

Mixed Media / 89 x 43 x 23 cm 
Courtsey Hauser &Wirth/ Anthony d’Offray, London

   The last work is probably my favorite, Drift. This sculptures is displayed on a wall whose color and lighting constitutes a real composition. At first sight, this looks pretty light. However, this character whose silhouette is on a smaller scale than the human scale, seems to be slowly drifting away from and creating distance between him and the visitor. The presence of sunglasses forbids any sort of contact. This feeling is enhanced with the fact that the statue is so elevated on the wall: we all have to look up in order to look at him, as if we were looking up to look at the Christ. The work that’s entitled “Drift” imposes a worrying distance. 

A/P 2009

Mixed Media / 118 x 96 x 21 cm 
Private Collection

   Later in the afternoon, my sister arrived to Paris. After meeting up with our aunt, we walked around one of the most beautiful neighborhoods of Paris, St Germain des Pres. We had deserts from Arnaud Larher, voted “Meilleur Ouvrier de France”. Because we wanted to walk around, we took ice cream: my sister had a vanilla and caramel ice cream, and I had the Passion Fruit with Framboise coulis sorbet. To. Die. For. I took a couple of pictures in the shop, because some things just looked so damn beautiful! 

Ice Cube Framboise Passion Fruit


   After walking around some more, we had a late/light dinner in a Mediterranean restaurant, called La Bastide d’Opio. Because we are so damn creative, we ordered the same fish.  

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