Peter de Meyer and Roman Pfeffer

Published on
October 22, 2022
belgium, contemporary artworks, installations, gallery, vienna
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Gallery Raum mit Licht | Image credit Munchies art club

On View | Raum mit Licht Gallery | Fantastic artists: Roman Pfeffer and Peter de Meyer

The Austrian contemporary gallery Raum mit Licht in Vienna presents the exhibition Ik ] Ich works by Peter de Meyer and Roman Pfeffer.

The title of the exhibition Ik & Ich is reminiscent of Pat and Patachon - those two friends whose souls were already conceived by the Enlightener Jean Paul (1763-1825). 

They couldn't be more different and still go the same way: irony is their leisure time and the leitmotif of their actions. 

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Roman Pfeffer on the left and Peter de Meyer on the right | Image credit Munchies art club

With an unbiased view you roam through everyday life. 

From what they take up and present to us, we recognize the whole human condition. 

Finding and transforming things is an artistic strategy that Surrealism eventually perfected. 

Meret Oppenheimer's "Fur Cup" (1936) has become her signature.

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Roman Pfeffer Self-portrait | Image credit Munchies art club

RML
Can you remember that "innocent" first moment when you were so fascinated by a "thing" that you wanted to develop a work out of it?

Roman Pfeffer: 

One of the first objects that I sent into the art channel was the Brockhaus edition in 2006. 

The Brockhaus, which had saved western knowledge for us before the digital change. 

It was broken down into its original materiality - into paper and paint, i.e. rearranged. 

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Detail sculpture Roman Pfeffer | Image credit Munchies art club

Thus, the Brockhaus is at the zero point and there is again storage space for new things. The return to the source materials deals with the question of rethinking "the thing". 

The title of the work was "Worth knowing about the knowledge of the world". 

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Self-portraits of the artists | Image credit Munchies art club

The 30-volume edition of Brockhaus 2006 was the starting point. 

The result is a paper column based on the original format with a height of 132 x 24 x 17 cm, which has the layers of printer colors (yellow, magenta, blue and black) on top. 

The printer ink and the paper have the potential to fix content.

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Peter de Meyer Self-portrait | Image credit Munchies art club

Peter de Meyer: 

At a young age I looked at things around me a bit differently and I started to interpret them in music, crafts and drawings. 

There was always a big dose of fantasy involved. In higher education, I studied Interior Design and Furniture Design. 

During this last training I often flirted with the boundary between design and art. 

For example, I made a piece of furniture that you cannot sit on: functionless design. From there I evolved further towards visual art. 

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Peter de Meyer | Image credit Munchies art club

One of the first works I came out with is down. 

In this work, I bring to life a robust, static object – known as 'the buck' from gymnastics class – through a subtle intervention: I laid the archetypal gymnastics equipment on its side and reassembled the legs so that it becomes a defenseless and vulnerable animal and introduces the idea of ​​loneliness and transience. 

Functionality has been completely omitted. 

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Installation view | Image credit Munchies art club

The abstraction of functionality is also very clear in a work like a sculpture a day shown in this exposition. 

At first glance, it's just a white tissue box. 

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Creating personal sculptures | Peter de Meyer | Image credit Munchies art club

The idea behind it is that every time someone takes out a tissue, a new and personal sculpture emerges. 

The work also refers to the fact that art can move people and to the different interpretations of art.

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Ich und Ick | Image credit Munchies art club

RML:

Are you systematically looking for things with "potential" today?

Roman Pfeffer: 

I rarely look for things. 

If I'm interested in a shape/surface or the design, I might collect those objects/materials. 

Over time, a work develops from it. 

It is also possible that this work will be followed by others and in the end the original object will only play a role in  the chain of references, but no longer as an object in itself.

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Detail | Image credit Munchies art club

Peter de Meyer:

I will definitely look for things with ‘potential’. What is important to me is that the objects I use are recognizable. 

This has to do with the fact that in my work I investigate the process of observation and perception by shifting context and meaning. 

I often start from the idea that objects, both in the individual and in the collective memory, are anchored in associations. 

Using subtle interventions and creations, I want to break through certain patterns of expectation and create the conditions for making the invisible visible. 

For this I build, as it were, on the metaphorical meaning of an object. 

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Exhibition view | Image credit Munchies art club

Examples of this are hooked and the blackboard. hooked is a fishing rod, attached to the ceiling of the gallery. 

It represents the strong connection between the gallerists and the artists, the fact that they are hooked to each other by means of a thread such as that of the Fates. 

For the visitors, the question remains: who caught whom? the blackboard is a black school board. 

Since the chalks have been replaced by pills, the big black board can be interpreted as a reference to both an empty sheet and the infinite. 

The pill-chalks are there to symbolize how individuals often cope with emptiness in all its meanings.

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Close-up Blackboard | Image credit Munchies art club

Important to add is that I no longer limit myself in my creation process to mere objects. In the past, my work always started from an object in my immediate environment, and I tried to add a new context to it. 

This usually happened quite quickly and intuitively. Now I often start from a certain idea and look for a way to express it. I also find that I now put more emphasis on the process. 

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Roman Pfeffer |  | Image credit Munchies art club

This is undoubtedly related to the fact that I stay closer to myself, do more introspection, have more eye for the world around me. An interesting work in this regard is the curve, a series of 9 leather belts with a hole at different levels.

It can be seen as a graphic that shows the inequality between individuals by means of the different waist circumferences. The holes so reveal where individuals find themselves in the world or in their lives.

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Gallery Raum mit Licht | Image credit Munchies art club

RML: 

How would you describe a prototypical discovery process?

Roman Pfeffer: 

All objects have a certain transmitter function. I think it's more the seismographic deflection of an unconscious compass needle that determines whether an everyday object is developed into a work of art. 

I choose things that in themselves have a certain subjective quality for me. The chair I chose for the "Permanent Selfie" has an inherent character that I find interesting.

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Roman Pfeffer | Image credit Munchies art club

Peter de Meyer:

I used to look for objects that I would collect somewhere in my studio. I soon realized that in this way I was dragging the whole world into my studio. 

I was the hamster artist or is it an art hamster who kept track of everything because it could serve as inspiration at some point. 

In the meantime, my studio orientation has made way for a broader global base without a collecting rage. 

I take long walks, talk to people, listen to music, and visit exhibitions, thrift shops and flea markets.

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Josephine Wagner | Image credit Munchies Art Club

In addition to the collection of objects in my studio, I have a large digital archive with Photoshop sketches of ideas and of objects for which I have already thought of a possible transformation. 

The realization of an exhibition often starts with browsing through that archive.

Besides, a particular theme or, in this case, a dialogue with another artist makes me recapture a certain object, look for a specific object or create something completely new. 

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Installation view | Image credit Munchies art club

A good example of this is self-portrait. 

After seeing Roman’s The artist in a made-to-measure suit, a self-portrait with exactly his length and volume, I chose to combine a static ready-made pole with my length and a playful party hat, both to tackle the idea of categorization – of artists and people in general – as to put myself into perspective – as an artist and a human being.

For my exhibition heads and tails (2017) I made a work about this: in memory of.

It is a marble memorial plaque with the text: In memory of the works of art that did not make it into the show.

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Ik und ich | Image credit Munchies art club

RML: 

Can you tell us a bit more about how a dialogue can unfold between you and the things you find?

Roman Pfeffer: 

It's not that easy to explain. 

There are works in which the origin of things is clearly visible and then there are those that only remind of it. 

In the exhibition, for example, there will be works whose origin is writing. 

Letters have a certain shape and surface, and the stringing together of letters creates content. 

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 Gallery Raum mit Licht |  Ik und ich | Image credit Munchies art club

This is a method that is not untypical of my way of working. 

A combination of several factors is necessary for an object or a form to become a work. 

The text work “IK”, which consists of 20 rotatable panels, is originally just a lettering that, translated into German, means ICH. 

Letters that are familiar to us are used. 

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 Gallery Raum mit Licht |  Ik und ich | Image credit Munchies art club

By dividing it into 20 parts and turning every second plate to the left, an abstract image is created.

Writing is the starting point, but through the intervention the writing becomes something else. 

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Gallery RML | Image courtesy Munchiesd Art Club

Is it text or painting, is the content of the text still important, or is the composition enough for us? 

The knowledge that an ego was dismantled here could play a role. 

It would be possible to turn the individual plates back so that everything is in order again. 

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Installation view exhibition Ik und ich | Image credit Munchies art club

What is added is the cultural component, since the IK is not a German word, so it has to be translated. 

And that's another abstraction. 

And abstraction plays a big role in my work with the objects. 

In the end, there is usually an abstract work that has a reference to materials and objects that are actually familiar to us. 

In the abstraction there is potential for interpretation and the absolute is undermined.

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Peter de Meyer | Installation view Ik und ich | Image credit Munchies art club

Peter de Meyer: 

In the dialogue between myself and my objects or ideas, a few themes come to the fore. In the first place, I reflect on the meaning of art by thinking not only about the art world itself, but also about my position as an artist. 

I am thinking of hooked mentioned earlier, but also of one of my other self-portraits, a picture of myself completely covered in thumbtacks. 

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Peter de Meyer Self-portrait | Image credit Munchies art club

The work is about the fact that I prefer to put my work in the spotlight and not myself. 

Navel gazer can also be added to this list. It is a stretched canvas in leather with a button in the middle, inspired by the Chesterfield or other sofas I was confronted with during my training at university college. 

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Installation view Ik und ich | Image credit Munchies art club

In the first place, the work refers to the idiom used to describe a narcissist, someone who is absorbed in his own thoughts, feelings and concerns, to the exclusion of all others, as a person staring at his own belly button. 

Secondly, the work visualises the idea of the public looking at the artists looking at themselves.

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Installation view Ik und ich | Image credit Munchies art club

A second theme in my work is the creation process itself. 

In 2017 I devoted an entire exhibition to this theme: heads and tails. 

Another example of this is the work coda, which is now part of the collection of museum Voorlinden in the Netherlands. 

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Peter de Meyer | Image credit Munchies art club

As a kind of sculptural landscape made up of a large number of glass jars that were used by painters to wet and rinse their brushes, it refers to shifting the end point of the expected result to the process: the waste that is normally neglected as a residual product of the result is elevated to a sculpture.

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Ik und ich exhibition | Image credit Munchies art club

The last theme that comes up regularly, is the reflection on the individual himself. 

For example, it can be found in point of view, based on a dental mirror. 

Through the small surface, the person looking into the mirror only sees a detail of himself. 

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Peter de Meyer | Image credit Munchies art club

The underlying meaning is that people often tend to lose sight of the bigger picture, their surroundings.

My arrow and a lifetime are also illustrations of this theme.

My arrow, two merged arrows pointing towards each other, represents the inner tension, the inner conflict. 

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Roman Pfeffer | Image credit Munchies art club

The fact that the arrows are pointing towards each other can be seen as a pointless action, since the outer target will never be reached.

As a key box in which 99 identical candles are hung from their wick, a lifetime is about transience, about the temporality of a human life and the fact that no one can control it. 

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RML gallery | Image credit Munchies art club

What I find is that my play with perception often gives rise to seemingly contradictory interpretations: from a tragic view on things to a smile.

Of course, a wink and cerebrality are not necessarily diametrically opposed: a smile does not equate to banality or mere gimmick, while cerebrality does not have to exclude humour.

Thank you for the interview!

[The interview was conducted by Heidrun Rosenberg]

Text Courtesy the gallery Raum mit Licht.

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