These Haunting Sculptures of Children Will Send Chills Down Your Spine

Gehard Demetz grew up in the Dolomites, northern Italy, an area with a history of battle and warfare. His haunting sculptures, expertly carved from wooden blocks, tell stories of the loss of childlike innocence and the pains of growing up. We caught up with Gehard to find out more about his larger than life characters.

Could you explain your work to someone who has never seen it before?

I started this kind of sculptures 9 years ago. My idea was to model and sculpt at the same time. With the wood blocks I can build up and with the carving tools I can take off. My work is classical wood-carving with carving steels, mallet and motor-saw. My sculptures are made piece by piece and the building up of the wooden elements I use, recalls the logic used in computer science. This sort of process lets me add things and sculpt, take things off and sculpt, with the advantage over traditional sculpture.


What inspires you?

I am inspired by every day happenings, such as news, magazines, personal impressions and books. There are some news, impressions and books which touch me more than others… I can’t tell why, but I strive for an answer to the subject through my work. At the moment I am reading Rudolf Steiner, Du Bois-Reymond and thriller books.

What is your favorite medium to work with?

I have worked with marble, Plexiglas and mud, but at the end I prefer wood as it is organic and warm. I feel it as mine.


What are some of the challenges that arise in your process?

It is always a fight. The challenges are both of mental and material nature… but mostly mental and there are no tactics to deal with them.

Where did you grow up? How is creativity celebrated in your culture compared to other places you have been to?

I grew up in the Dolomites and am still living here. I travelled around and I like every country’s traditions, but I am mostly signed by my home culture which is very deep. I love our old religious and also heathenistic traditions.

Deep means to me local customs which have been passed from generation to generation… Hundreds of years of culture. Italy isn’t in a rosy situation at the moment. I live in the northern part of Italy. Our area is a natural border, since hundreds of years our region has been scene of battles and wars… this is still perceptible by the local population and this definitely influences my work.


Why do you often use children as your subjects?

My subjects transmit the awareness of becoming adults and thus losing, as Rudolf Steiner says, their ability to be able to “hear” their unconscious. They live with the burden of guilt transmitted from generation to generation, which does not belong to them. They are children who feel sad about not being able to really be children, but who have, on the other hand, the possibility of choosing to become adults, totally independently, thus freeing themselves little by little of all the influences transmitted by their ancestors. They are witness to all the efforts involved in the process of growth and development, which is achieved through individual will and concentration.

The props I insert are part of the statement or my intention of deflecting from it. The objects by themselves have often an ambiguous statement which I insert consciously.

Is there an overarching message or feeling you hope to give your audience?

I hope that everybody interprets my work with their own feelings, depending on their past, experiences and background, constructing their one stories. My greatest ambition is to start a dialogue between my sculptures and those who look at them.

See more of Gehard’s work on his website.

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