“TAXI Magazine“, n. 01, taxiartmagazine.com, December 2010
Gehard Demetz
Interview by Alberto Noriega

His wooden adolescents and children seem to express that they have suffered the impositions of adults with a powerlessness that even saddens. This is only an interpretation, but seems that Gehard Demetz's figures want to put a stop to all of this and rebel. This reveals a certain fascination about how the child psyche is constantly seeking values; a phenomenon which, according to Demetz, we lose as we transform into adults. His work evokes memories that can assault us by their own ability to transmit content and form. In Taxi we can see some of his works delving into the meaning and message that Demetz wants to send off.

It sounds paradoxical that Gehard Demetz is known for a certain mystery that surrounds him. This artist is able to provide to the wood some properties that it didn't have before. The results are figures that captivate us right away. Demetz creates sculptures of children who look sad and seek to connect with the individual who observes them. Interrupted innocence, childish vendetta, parts of the sculpture that are missing. All this reveals some sort of pain and, in turn, leaves the observer defenseless. He was born in 1972, in Italy, in a town called Selva di Val Gardena, where he still lives and works. Demetz has risen to an international level by the quality of craftsmanship and personal style of carving wooden figures that are both striking and suggestive for contemporary observers.

Let's talk about your childhood and life in Val Gardena. Away from the bustle of big Italian cities, your discovery of sculpture...

I like visiting cities I have never seen. But, after a while, I must return to Selva, where I find the the quiet and relaxed environment most suitable for me. Reading is essential in order to nourish my mind and imagination.

Why your conviction on carving and sculpting wood? Isn't a bit strange that technique in Italy? Is it a tradition of Italian border? How did you arrive to wood as a material for your sculptures?

Yes, in Val Gardena there's an artistic tradition of wood carving that has prevailed for more than three centuries, and it is believed to have come from Poland. My interest in sculpture dates back to my youth, when I was fascinated by sacred artworks of large dimensions.

Tell us about your formation process. How did you start and how did you manage to polish your technique until reaching this level of refinement and craftmanship on wood's finish?

The first six years of training as a sculptor were spent in art schools and in the professional school for sculptors in Selva, my hometown, where I still live. In 1996, I accepted a position as a teacher in the professional school of Ortisei, and I taught for over ten years there. Then I consolidated my research at the Salzburg summer academy. During that time I kept refining my skills and searching for my own individual style. As for the finished quality of my works, I would say it is the result of the last years of research and the techniques I learned from my teachers.

What do you want to express with your sculptures of sad children? Is there any personal reason or do you want to create a bridge into the psyche of the observer?

I try to make them look more self-assured than children normally are, more aware of their choices and the subsequent consequences.

Your figures seem to want to rebel from the impositions and cruelties of the adult world. Do you think your works have the ability to connect with cruelty and human innocence?

I hope to establish a dialogue between the sculpture and the observer, I accept all interpretations.

We know you've been a teacher in your hometown for 10 years. During these years, Did you ever imagine what your work would be? Did the sculpture classes help or hinder your creative work?

At first the contact with my students was helpful in my work. But later I had the feeling that the time I had for my own activity was not enough. I felt this anxiety everywhere, at school, in my studio, and at home. I realized this was not good. So I quit my job as a teacher and, so far, I don't regret on this decision.

Can you tell us why you use the technique of juxtaposing qualities of wood and removing pieces from your sculptures?

This technique allows me to shape and carve wood at the same time. I am able to add and subtract matter at my own will.

Do you think that your work is contemporary or does it have influences of classical artists and periods?

My sculpture is assembled piece by piece and the modular structure in wooden elements is reminiscent of the world of computer technology. The theme is certainly contemporary, however, I was also certainly influenced by great artists such as Riemenschneider, Stoβ, Barlach, etc.

Spain, Korea, USA, Germany, the statue of one of the founders of Nike. Are you surprised by the projection that you've experience from 2005 until today? Do you see everything going a little too fast?

I think I have worked hard during my years of apprenticeship, until today. But I would never have expected such a fast and intense lane.

Will we ever see your work in Mexico? Do you have an offer to exhibit your works in Mexico?

I hope so. There were contacts but, so far, nothing serious.

Once you've achieved that personal touch that gives uniqueness to your pieces in the world of contemporary sculpture. What are your plans for the near future?

I would like to develop my low reliefs, switching from wood to wax models to be casted into bronze.