University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Spirit Materialized

    Spirit Materialized

    Spirit Materialized

    by David Gerstein, Kol Ha'Ir, Jerusalem, June 1982

    Two sculpture exhibits, now on display in Jerusalem, reveal two essentially different sculptural concepts. One, Peter Boiger's, is classical modernism in nature; the other, of Ezra Orion, consists mostly of documentation and theoretical verbiage, something, which becomes almost classical at the Israel Museum.

    As is probably understood from the above, I personally prefer Boiger's exhibit at the Debel Gallery, which, although root being a breakthrough, presents the artist at his best. There is a. certain problem in analyzing work as mature and of a quality as this, for the critic tends to succumb to clich├ęs, which might not satisfy the palate of people who are looking for novelty. But good is good, and let me put it in these words: the aspiration to overcome the limitations of the material and create spiritual energy out of this is the central motivation in Boiger's work.

    He usually deals with the human figure, and this obsessive repetition results in a liberation of form and a multitude of variations. The figure is only a spring-point from which he starts to dig into the material, creating recesses and raised areas, so that the figure becomes a kind of elongated totem, in which an activity of forms happens, which join each other in the way bones are connected: The viewer holds on to the figurative semblances like to an anchor, to sail on to the realm of the abstracted figures. The identifying elements are usually the head, the vertebrae and the legs, themselves being abstract hints.

    In a series of heads he deals with the oval of the head, reducing realistic details from it until it becomes a concise form, radiating spirituality. Some of the figures rise up from a thin pair of legs, leading the eye towards a group of volumes, separated by negative space which make up the body. Sometimes a shape is added which evokes an association of a warrior's shield, thus relating these works to the long tradition of the hero-myth. This is also supported by another group of figures of the falling warrior.

    Parallel to the falling figure Boiger deals also with the motive of ascension, but this time in a completely abstract manner. The illusion of a form aspiring to overcome gravity is achieved by a transparent piece of plexiglass, suspending the form this way in the air above its "sisters", being still connected to mother earth.

    Boiger is a sensual artist, in love with the material, and emphasizes its textures. His works combine a distant echo of primitive sculpture, ritual in character, with the achievements of abstract expressionism. His results are modern classicism, in which a dimension of depth are his prominent personal mark.