Valerio Dehò
art critic, Bologna (I)
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Peter Demetz : People.

Art often represents the ordinary, common objects and people, who turn into something different when transformed into a work of art. Peter Demetz belongs to the solid gardenese tradition of woodcraft and sculpture, but refers also to international models such as the pop art of Segal or the more recent Munoz. Demetz does not work specifically on serials, even though it may appear so at first. His portraits, however, always possess individual traits. He depicts common people, but certainly not an anonymous mass. Perhaps his choice is closer to a kind of art, such as photography in particular, which analyses average statistics. His people can be assimilated into sociological groups, though showing specific personalities.  The middle class offers interesting hints at this regard. In any case, Demetz does not try to depict one-dimensional anonymity; in his work he rather studies character than a generic addition of personages.
His people are always in relation to something: an architectural space or another person, who they refer to. In some cases it is the doubled image in the mirror, an unequivocal symbol, which signals the possibility of self-representation. The architectural space is disposed and organized into rooms for the figures, which animate them. It is a human space constructed by man for himself. This context reveals that, in this case, space is not meant as a metaphysical representation, but rather as the reconstruction of an environment. The rooms into which people are placed have a dynamical effect on their relationships. The works of Demetz seem to be still frames of a serial, which needs to be discovered and of which the artist anticipates only some clues; not recognizable stories, but attitudes, something in a potential state, which attends to be resolved into a narrative.

Another important aspect of these works is that the persons are also personages; they live in a theatrical dimension, almost without being aware of their state. In other words, Demetz puts them on stage. He organises a simple and formally well-structured theatre, where men and women try to find their place. It is an image-theatre, ready to move like a medieval carillon, possessing, however, the terse minimalism of a mature art, conscious of its ultimate aims.  So the “picture”, in which these personages are placed into, is a stage with a simplified perspective, where sculpture assumes form and dignity. The gardenese sculptor does not make any difference between small or larger works; his main concern is depicting a world not in its realistic, but exclusively in its iconographic aspects. These representations do not aim to leave the artificial behind, but want to dwell there in the best and most lasting way possible. They remind me of a novel by Adolfo Bloy Casares, “The Invention of Morel” (1940), which was also well adapted into a film in 1974 by Emidio Greco. The personages seem to be perfect and real, but they are only the projections of a fantastic machine, which has registered the days of the lives of people, who have already died. In fact, these projections certainly do not have a tumultuous life, but this is how things have to be, because Peter Demetz works on images and not on men and women as real beings. This does not diminish their real (not realistic) origins; they become inhabitants of a stern and severe human space, a mental space, where to find place and thought.
Conceptually speaking, the optical box is unveiled, because it is art, which wants to be seen. I would like to quote the English philosopher George Berkeley: “Esse est percepi”. In fact, besides being perceived and perceiving the others, nothing else can exist. Such artifice does not cover the truth, but reveals truth by hiding it.  Therefore, in the works of Demetz, also time is slowing down, because space determines everything. Visible end perceivable relationships open the logic of every artistic work to the observer and invite him to participate at a narration, which always is just about to begin or has just been finished.

Valerio Dehò
Bologna 2008

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