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Markus Raetz

Sans titre (Deux visages), 1981
eucalyptus leaves, pins
50.0 x 55.0 cm
A constellation of two faces, one of which is looking down, the other up, has been discreetly mounted on the wall in slight relief, casting faint shadows. To sketch these two figures, Markus Raetz substitutes eucalyptus leaves for the calligrapher’s brushstrokes. As is often the case, he plays on our perception of reality and the instability of visual signs by proposing a dual level of reading, i.e., a relief using leaves and human faces.

Appearing whilst disappearing at the same time, the human face is central to Raetz’s work. As he tells it, “I have always found the subject of faces interesting, that precision with which one, as a human being, perceives faces. I know of nothing else that we are able to decrypt as subtly as the expression of the face, unless perhaps it's the expression of the body. The face is really a system of signs that we learn to decipher in childhood, when we’re learning to read.”

After discovering the formal possibilities of eucalyptus leaves in 1980 in Ramatuelle, Raetz developed a series of works employing the material. He created installations pinned to the wall that display heads in various positions and Polaroids playing on the variations of facial expressions. A pair of Polaroids entitled Berlin 30.X.81 which show the same two faces made of eucalyptus leaves were part of the creative spark that led to Untitled (Two Faces). Thus, the themes of the human and nature, both dear to Raetz, are brought together here in a poetic vision. The artist depicts a human being but does so taking his brushstrokes from nature so that nature gives birth to transient faces.
Markus Raetz, Sans titre (Deux visages), 1981