Contemporary sculptors at the British Museum.
4 October 2008 – 25 January 2009. Admission free.
Mueck’s hyperrealist sculptures have inspired wonder for over a decade.
In Mask II he has represented the features of his own face with unstinting accuracy but on a superhuman scale. The resulting object – disorientating and moving in equal measure – wavers between realism and abstraction, monumentality and intimacy, and between the states of life and death. Its neighbour is Hoa Hakananai’a, an enormous stone statue from Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
These two figures speak to each other across several centuries and 8,500 miles in the long history of monumental sculpture. Both reveal the enduring human need to make our own image on a grand scale. Mask II’s prostrate orientation also alludes to the many fallen moai (statues of human figures) that remain on Rapa Nui today as reminders of a civilisation that has since been transformed.
'Ron Mueck prefers not to talk about his work. But in conversation a few years ago he made it clear to me that scale is one of his chief concerns. Small things made big, or big things made small have a new and potent impact on the viewer. You can see it going on all over the British Museum – basically a museum of sculpture – which is why the meeting of an Easter Island head and Ron Mueck’s giant self-portrait is so appropriate.'