And there, on the floor, 3ft long, is one indisputable, obvious masterpiece – a single work, the understated Dead Dad by Ron Mueck, the Australian son-in-law of Paula Rego – a calmly brilliant sculpture which is the contemporary equivalent of, say, Holbein’s subtle portrait of Erasmus, with its engaged intelligence and wryly amused thin mouth.
The greatness of Dead Dad is oxymoronic: its very completeness also tells us something is missing. The sculpture dispassionately records every delicate and indelicate bodily detail – detail that is alive with accuracy. Nothing is missing. Tendons, toenails, the direction of dark hair on the calves, the hazy pubes a little stationary mirage, the tidy greying hair, the polished, modest, uncircumcised cosh of the penis at four o’clock, which echoes the thumbs across the open, upturned palms.
And yet this body is unmistakably dead. It is laid out – the opposite of foetal. We are not in the presence of sleep. The eyes have it – significantly pink, fatally, infinitesimally sunken. And the helpless hands have irretrievably lost it.
more from The Guardian here.