Simon Demeuter brings his visions to life. With his rare colors and the precision of his lines, they reach another dimension on the canvas. For this series of paintings, he reminisced on his Roman wanderings. Leaving the paths that lead to the usual clichés about the Eternal City, he found, in the mosaic floor of Villa Borghese, some very old figures. Sleeping gladiators, prisoners of their own postures. Condemned to virility, to omnipotence. But dismissed by tourist circuits, guides and Rome’s great classics. By giving them back the lead role, Simon Demeuter brings them back to life. Gladiators no longer want to fight, nor die. Listen to them: they want to love each other and live!
We no longer have a name.
We no longer own the space.
We no longer have our graves.
They swamp on us, every day a little more. And with what? Plastic flip flops! Birkenstocks for the feet of tourists tired of having roamed the city in the scorching heat for so long. A bit of their sweat, their impatience and their excited iPhone flashes. With their forgetfulness, above all things, they despise us.
We were in the heart of the arena. Envied by all. Manlier than lions. More terrible than wild beasts. We were the strong men. Ready to sacrifice our life for the big game. Ready to die to honor the gods. These days, they don’t even look at us anymore. The gods are absent and men walk past us. Without seeing us. They favor the milky marble of Bernini, the so deep black of Caravaggio, busts and saints, virgins and wine. They line up to see them, to scrutinize them. And us, from heel to toe, they step on us.
They put us down. To the dustless ground. To a life without risk. To ornament. Some decor. This is what we are. Frozen in our postures.
Mute. In our helmets. They forgot about us. What did we do to deserve this death? We have never lacked courage. We offered our blood, our fear. Gave everything to persist. Remained eternally heroic. Ancient statues and models. What’s the point? We eventually got fed up with their colosseum. No more sword, no more hole. No more melee, nor gratuitous violence. Why die when no one looks at us anymore? We found a parade to their contempt. Our strikes have become caresses. Our struggles, desires. Our death, pleasures.
We no longer wage war. Far from their gaze, we touch each other. We have learned to be gentle. Courage to embrace. Violence even sharper in enjoyment. We have transformed our curse. Regained our colors. Left the ground for the canvas and the heavens. Over and done with the gods. We are no longer models. No longer immortals.
And now they are coming back. They feast their eyes on us. Call us by our name. Remember.
Again we are alive.
And we are in love.
– Boris Bergmann