Ralf Metzenmacher
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FAQ - Ralf Metzenmacher

What sort of music do you prefer to listen to?
Pop/Rock bands like the Strokes, Pearl Jam, Maximo Park. But also German bands like Kira and TempEau.
What is your favourite current song and why?
A Lady of a Certain Age by The Divine Comedy - a completely sentimental song with great lyrics and music that fits the south of France perfectly.
Are you interested in fashion?
No. Basically I don't think things like that are very important.
But you do create paintings that suit particular lifestyles?
Yes I do. I've learnt how to create a very successful product and I've also learnt what it is that these products need in order to fit into the customer's world. To do that, you have to be able to put yourself and your own feelings to one side and put yourself in the position of the target group. Most people are unable to do that and therefore close themselves off from other people. That can lead to something that might look good but has nothing to do with the person for whom it is intended. A miss is as good as a mile!
If you were so successful at design, why did you give it up?
After more than 28 collections it was gradually getting boring and anyway I hate variations of variations. PUMA had reached the end of its most inventive phase. It transferred its recipe for success to other sports and jogged on in the same vein. It became all about commerce. Profit, profit, profit. It got to the stage where the people themselves were no longer perceived as important.
What was your most successful product at PUMA?
Speed Cat and its successor Future Cat from the motor sport collection, the retro-inspired line of bags and, of course, footballs.
If you had your time over again, would you still choose to work at PUMA?
Yes. Every time. PUMA was my life and I learned a lot.
You have travelled a lot with your work. Have you got to know interesting people along the way?
Yes. I met loads of interesting people, from really likeable Pakistani paddy farmers to top designers, actors and millionaires. And those that led the simplest lives were always the happiest. Having lots of money hasn't made anybody that I met happy.
Why have you chosen to live in Bamberg?
I've got to know most of the capital cities around the world and stumbled across many wonderful and beautiful places but with Bamberg it was love at first sight.
Does the perfect design exist?
Yes and for me it's the Aston Martin DB9. It's got fantastic proportions. Every line is perfect and it doesn't have too much. No aerofoil, no air scoop. That's it. Racing with style.
So why didn't you work at Aston Martin?
Aston Martin is already set up perfectly. I believe that my contribution to art can bring about a big change. Nobody but me appears to see the significance of retro in art. There's just an awful lot still to be done in this area. It's about opening people's eyes.
Who has influenced your painting?
Two superb painters: Francisco de Zurbaran, a Spaniard from the 17th century, and Giorgio Morandi, an Italian who died in 1964.
Why do you paint still life of all things?
When I was studying Francisco Zurbaran's paintings, it was the tranquillity of the kneeling Francis of Assisi and the "quiet corners" in his large paintings that particularly appealed to me. This way of turning in on oneself captivated me and so by degrees I came across his still lifes and began to see them as something very distinctive. They give a Spanish view of everyday life and avoid the pomposity of the Flemish and the Dutch still lifes. I was impressed by that and began to ask myself how I could portray my own world in a contemporary way. That was the starting point of the work I did for my degree "Objects come into the picture".

Why don't you paint people?
I can draw people very well. You can see that if you take a look at the sketches for "Beach of my dreams". And ultimately I studied life drawing. My painting technique is shaped by the idea that the only things that should be painted realistically are the things which we can't see. As a result, people tend to look as if they have been mis-painted. But why should I change the way people look? I want to offer an explanation for their behaviour and I don't need to paint them to do that - in a similar way to Zurbaran's still lifes.
Do you listen to music when you're painting?
Always. I find music extremely inspiring and when music and lyrics merge together, you can end up with the perfect song - depending on your mood.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
From experience and observation. I've already got so much to draw from and I'm adding to those experiences every day. Now I am much more aware of my subconscious now than I was when I was younger. And I now have the self-confidence to stand by my view of the world and to withstand any potential criticism.
How long do you need to create a picture?
Around three months. My technique is not compatible with fast work. However, I usually work on several paintings at the same time.
What would you like to see in the world of art?
Candour instead of fashionable frippery. I would like to see museums compelled to manage without subventions and galleries with an appreciation of art rather than commerce.
Where has contemporary art gone wrong in your opinion?
I think Joseph Beuys is the most missunderstood artist of the 20th century. He opened a door into art for any idiot and now they traipse around believing that they have to bestow their favour on this rubbish, although it has absolutely nothing to say.
Is there anything that you can't stand?
Yes. When somebody intentionally paints an object that already exists in the real world. That makes no sense and is just a way for the artist to keep himself busy. The viewer could just as well look at a photograph which would represent the object more precisely.
What do you hate the most?
Opportunism, ignorance and that most people who are well off tend to look down on others. And the obsession with appearance as opposed to substance.
You are in your early 40s. Do you still have goals in life?
Of course. After the turbulent and stressful times in industry, I would like to devote myself to the really important things in life. The endless search for wealth makes no sense and I have always been afraid of living in an enormous house with an electric golden gate. You only buy something like that when you really don't know what to do with your money. Looking ahead, I believe there's the chance of doing something that has real meaning in my remaining 30 years or so. Something that doesn't just have meaning for me but for others too. And that's why I would like to pass on my knowledge to younger people.

Ralf Metzenmacher | Am Leinritt 9a 96049 Bamberg | Tel: +49 (0) 951 95 70 174 | eMail: info@ralf-metzenmacher.com | Imprint