rede von frau dr. viola von oeynhausen in english

gehalten zu eröffnung der ausstellung im musenhof poppendorf 2003


Dear guests, my dear Axel,

My name is Viola von Oeynhausen and I have been a friend of Axel for many years. Uta Börner and he have asked me to open this exhibition.
Thanks to the sponsors …

Axel Peters´ works are shown very rarely. His last exhibition was in Hamburg in 1990. If he had been the one to decide, he would have used this exhibition as an opportunity to show the two new marble statues he has been working on in the last two years in Carrara (Italy), which have just been brought here. Axel does not need any publicity for his art. It is not that he is modest, but he just does not think an exhibition and the big effort behind it is necessary.
But thanks to Uta Börner´s persuasion we can show more of his important works today, works which have been hidden in his studio up to now.
A journalist once said basically: “Stones fit him well… large, cut or still waiting rocks stand in the wide open space around his studio, massive and compact, marked by weather, wind, time.” Yes, some of his works we know are big and seem rooted to the soil- the Lying Woman in front of the House of the Guest from the year 2000, the Cowstone in front of the research center in Dummerstorf, or the well there entitled Insights, as well as the sculptures in front of our district authority´s office building. But a different side of this sculptor can be seen on the way to the pier in Graal-Müritz in the portrait of Rosa Luxemburg, which, if you ask me, shows his true strength. The portrait of a human being, the finding of the being of a person, of his most important features, the setting of his character in a piece of stone or metal, is the most difficult struggle a sculptor engages in. Axel Peters has risen to this challenge often, and here today we see a selection of his works which have been formed in many years. I would also include the two sculptures outside, next to the manor-house, which also deal with the inside of a person. When you approach this double figure you can feel the closeness that links these two people. Yesterday a little girl asked her mother, what the two people were doing. The mother answered, they were snuggling. The girl said, aha, it´s a snuggling stone. And there is the marble statue which is called Sitting man. I would prefer to call it inside, if this wasn´t an English word, because everybody who approaches this sculpture has a different sensation; one senses sadness and melancholia, another one pensiveness and dreaminess. I myself have always seen feminine features in this man- everybody sees it from his own inner perspective.
You can only create such sculptures when you look inwards and distance yourself from normal, everyday routines. That´s why we must simply accept that he retires to a place where this is possible. The artist must try in a, in many respects, hard struggle to transform his inner picture into a real stone. Axel once said: “What is left at the end is the sum of all errors”.
Exploring Axel Peters´ curriculum vitae would be a feature-length presentation in itself, which is why I would like to mention only four points which strike me as important.
Axel Peters was the second of four children born to a family where the father, a historian, was very dominant. Constantly at odds with this parent, Axel still adopted an intellectual, cosmopolitan and critical perception from this humanistic education, which has doubtlessly shaped him and influenced his path of life with all its consequences.
After several detours, Axel started an apprenticeship as a stone cutter at the age of 30 and became a guest auditor at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts. He chose Dresden deliberately after having seen exhibitions of student works there and found them close to his own views. Largely self-taught, Axel learned how to draw from Gerhard Kettner. An important role model and mentor was José Renau and, in particular again and again, Wieland Förster. He was on Axel´s side when his admission to the VBK (the association of the fine artists in the former GDR) was refused. They have been close friends for years and are affiliated with each other by similar views in their work, such as the strict focus on important and exact points and the omission of unnecessary details with an occasional smooth transition to the abstract.

Probably the most exciting time for Axel was during the “Wende,” the time of the German reunion. He was actively involved in the changes taking place, at times a strong-voiced leader in the civil rights movement who led many people in Rostock. He initiated many processes and was always looking for ways for a peaceful change of the society. Even today he is nationally remembered and appreciated for his occupation of the Stasi headquarters (the East German secret police) in Rostock, his revelation of the role of the IMES (an import-export company in the former GDR involved in the arms trade), for endless negotiations with the old power holders and the development of visions for the future. However, this time also took him to his mental and physical limits. Taking on an office as Germany´s first and only head of the district authority Rostock-Land for the civil rights movement NEUES FORUM was a logical consequence of his work, but it also brought him into conflict with his ideal of a new society. He realized that “making things better” was not intended in a German reunion and he was frustrated by the rigid bureaucracy surrounding him. He finished his political career in 1995 and returned to his stones. His health had suffered, but he had also learned a lot about human society and its limits. 

If you speak about Axel, and this is the last point I want to make, you cannot neglect to speak about the father Axel. His family is not quite what you would call conventional, but I have rarely met a father who is so open to his swarm of children and has such a deep and trustful connection with them. The time and effort, he invests here is immense, but it is also a source of the strength and the sensitivity he needs in order to transform his inner picture into a reality in stone, which then in turn allows the viewer to gain insight as well.

I don´t want to say any more about Axel Peters. Absorb the impact of his work with this knowledge wherever you see them in the wide open space of our county or here, and visualize your own inner pictures of them. I hope you will enjoy them.

Dr. Viola von Oeynhausen