Unfinished and unmistakable, Gehard Demetz realises his figures by assembling small wooden pegs as if they were shreds of history. His works are generally of children or adolescents with a look that is sometimes extinguished, sometimes melancholy and almost sulky, a symptom of the bitter conftict with themselves and the world of adults, and of the premature loss of tè that innocence that we usually attribute to infancy.
“It was the theories of Rudolf Steiner that made me see children in this way: he holds that until the sixth year of age, children can sense the unconscious and feel the impulses transmitted to them from their forebears. I am convinced of this hypothesis, together with the idea that these children are at the bottom conscious of their transformation into adulthood, perhaps also in virtue of my personal experience in overcoming infancy, which I remember in a particularly intense way.”
At Franzensfeste can be seen objects from Demetz’s more recent artistic production, almost ready-mades in the style of Duchamp. The sculptures on display – symbols loaded wlth religious meaning – appear slightly modified to the careful eye. The tabernacle, finely worked and silver-plated (here can be seen the virtuoso execution of the sculptural tradition of Val Gardena), is slightly curved, while the ostensory, in place of a consecrated wafer, holds an everyday item deprived of its function: a fork with no prongs. Such objects lend themselves to multiple interpretations: they lay bare, in a sophisticated and irreverent way, the superficiality with which we relate to the sacred, but they also make us look again at our certainties with regard to the structure of values and ideals supporting contemporary western society.
Da “The extraneous age”
by Tobia Moroder, PANORAMA – Arte nuova in Alto Adige
In just a few years, Gehard Demetz has risen to international prominence by applying his incredible craftsmanship as a traditional woodcarver to subjects that are new and appealing to contemporary viewers.
His sculptures of children are at the same time attractive and disquieting and rendered with an amazing perfection that is by no means rhetorical or classical. One of the most startling technical features is the construction using small woodblocks and juxtaposing finely polished parts to very rough and sketchy surfaces. This particular construction and treatment render his sculptures absolutely unique in the domain of contemporary wood sculpture and is partly responsible for the great curiosity aroused by the appearance of his work in the art world. Since his debut in 2005, Gehard Demetz has been invited by prominent galleries to exhibit in the United States, Spain, Germany, Korea. He has also produced monumental sculptures on commission for collectors around the world.
Born 1972, Bolzano. Lives and works in Selva di Val Gardena