On coming face to face with Ron Mueck's huge, hyper-realistic Head of a Baby, the reactions of children are immediate and visceral.
"It's kind of creepy and cool at the same time," said eight-year-old Jaeden Spencer.
"When I walked up to it, it felt like it was blowing up in my face," exclaimed 11-year-old Graham Smith-McLeod.
"I feel a little scared," added nine-year-old Olivia Iacobucci, who visibly cringed as she stared into the baby's giant, unblinking eyes.
These school kids are part of the stream of families wandering through the National Gallery of Canada's exhibitions during March Break, and lucky for them, the gallery has pulled kid magnets like the big baby out of its vaults to create a memorable visit.
The temporary exhibition Human Scale features some of the gallery's greatest hits, including huge, crowd-pleasing, and eerily life-like forms created by contemporary artists Ron Mueck and Evan Penny, as well as some downsized versions of the human body from Ugo Rondinine, Karin Sander, and the late Louise Bourgeois.
"Mueck's work really plays with scale as a fundamental element of representing the human condition," said
Jonathan Shaughnessy, associate curator of contemporary art at the gallery.
"He's an artist who's interested in the monumental in art history, he's looked at the history of sculpture and the interest people have in looking at themselves."
Two larger than life-size works by Toronto based sculptor Evan Penny have the same sort of effect on visitors: they fascinate, entice, and repel, all at once. The meticulous craftsmanship and hyper-attention to detail, down to the tiniest hairs and pores, inspire a lot of respect for the creative process as well.
But the show won't be on display for long — then its back to the vaults for baby and friends. Human Scale runs at the National Gallery until April 10.