Demetrij Cej (1931 - 2012)


He goes to primary school in the Serbian capital. After the beginning of the Second World War he moved with his family to Gorizia where he enrolled in the Slovenian secondary school and later in the Art School where he graduated in painting decoration in 1952. He started exhibiting in 1949. From 1953 to 1964 he worked as a shipboard painter at the Cantieri Navali di Monfalcone. At the same time, from 1960 to 1964 he began working as a theatrical set designer collaborating with the director Francesco Macedonio, founder of the Piccolo Teatro Città di Gorizia. At the beginning of the theatre season 1964/1965 he left Gorizia for Trieste where he took on the role of set designer, stagecraft and costume designer at the Teatro Stabile Sloveno where he worked until 1993. A few years later he returned to Gorizia and painted until 2004. Due to serious health conditions, he stops working . He dies in what he has always considered his city in April 2012. 

In over fifty years of artistic activity Demetrij Cej has participated in hundreds of group exhibitions and set up more than 80 solo shows in the region, in Slovenia and the nearby Veneto. He is present at prizes, competitions and extempore exhibitions of painting obtaining many prizes and awards. He wins the prestigious San Floriano Prize organized in the Formentini Castle and participates in various editions of the Piran Prize in Piran d'Istria. He created about a hundred theatre scenes based on his own project and collaborated in the realization of works by other set designers. He took part in the cultural life of Gorizia, which was particularly lively after the First World War, and established solid relations of friendship and collaboration with the painters Cesare Mocchiutti, Ostilio Gianandrea, Sergio Altieri, Gigi Castellani, Ignazio Doliach, Armando Depetris, Gianmaria Tuti; with the art critic Joško Vetrih , the director Francesco Macedonio and the actors Mario Pirolo and Gianfranco Saletta. His pictorial research is entirely characterized by the use of singular materials, at least in painting, such as the thin metal nets he spreads on compositions or gauze, polystyrene, polyurethane foam, plexiglass, gold leaf, cork that he uses together with the colors to build the images of the paintings. He is always very attentive to the experiences of great international artists, historical avant-garde artists and masters of Slovenian painting, especially Lojze Spacal, Avgust Černigoj and Lojze Spazzapan. From the mid-1950s to the whole 1960s his best works represent cities, factories, suburban houses and architectural compositions that many, including his friends Altieri, Macedonio and Vetrih, have defined as "images of memory", visions of his native Belgrade, a city in which Demetrij Cej as a child feels on his skin the hunger, poverty and social degradation that he shares with his parents and siblings with great dignity and courage.