University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Mystic Elements

    Mystic Elements

    Al Hamishmar, February 8, 1985

    Mystic Elements

    by Dorit Kedar

    An exhibition of the work of sculptor Peter Boiger is now on view at the U.S. Embassy. His work would be easier to understand after a look at the exhibition„of African Art and the Marmount Pavillion of Ethnic Arts at the Israel Museum. The sculpture on show is in bronze, aluminum and wood. Two years ago this artist exhibited at the Horace Richter Gallery in Jaffa, the work being predominantly in wood. The artist seems to "get into the skin" of the wood, learns to speak its language, only then disclosing its inherent forms. From the physical aspect, the "discovery" is linked with the artist's thinking. He has adopted a form of expression devised to combine primitive art traits (especially African and pre-Columbian) with a tendency toward abstraction and quintesse. Primitive thought does not regard art as a purely aesthetic object. The functional and aesthetic attributes are interrelated.

    The object could embody a superior being: a primeval father or a culture hero. It is the embodiment of the god himself. The masks possess mystical powers. The state of a private individual depends on the mystical art objects in their possession. The art objects are odd to evoke a "different" domain, one of the spirits, the gods, the powers which dominate man and not to display inner sensations or excitement.

    From primitive art, modern artists have borrowed the outward characteristics and turned them to their own use. Take Picasso, some of the German expressionists or the Fauve movement distort human forms to convey their meaning with greater force.

    Peter Boiger is apparently involved in the deeper meanings of primitive art. He has not borrowed details in order to adapt them to modern thinking processes, but worked in the opposite direction. He creates adulation, deterrence, distance and the ability to identify details from life. In Boiger, the sculptor becomes a mystic element. At the same time, he brings with him the modern idiom and impregnated the abstract heritage into the primitive mentality. Any misunderstanding ;gust at this point be avoided:

    The abstract style which tends toward geometric elements is an inseperable part of primitive art, but is mostly an integral part of primitive art, although it mostly is extremely symbolical.

    Abstraction often begins with a figurative image which becomes progressively more abstract and less identifiable. Because of the difference in quality and temperament, the modern concrete abstract does not "symbolize", it does not "point to". It exists in its own right thanks to the material on the canvas. The representational image becomes progressively more abstract and less identifiable. Different in quality, and mood, the concrete modern abstract does not stand for something, it does not symbolize. It exists in its own right, that of the material on the canvas and that's all. Primitive man sees things beyond the stylized form, while the modern eye tries to follow canvas inter-action.

    Boiger therefore takes concrete and minimalist sculpture which he invests with added meaning. The titles of the sculpted works speak for themselves: "Dream Sentry"; Fugue for Machu Pichu; "Homage to the Winds"; "The Ocraculus"; "Oracle"; "Penetrating Observation"... The polished and cold bronze sculptures create a distance because of the material and the abstract-cum-mystic treatment. Are they faces or sexual organs or masks or unfamiliar creatures from outer space which half look through the "heads" or the "penetration observation". The somewhat lighter aluminum pays.homage to one of the basic elements of creation - the spirits. One of the works evoke (probably deliberately) Stonehenge. Stones to worship the universe, the sun. "Falling Figure" or "Dream Sentry" are in wood, the more intimate, more human material. The white dream seems to flow with the wood, the images whose heads incline like the truncated red roots of trees, create empathy in the inescapable fall.

    The exhibit in the Embassy Cultural Center is superb, yet we must be reiterate that, it can only be fully understood after a look at the Ethnic Arts pavillion in Jerusalem.


    Translated from Hebrew by US Embassy staff.