Ralf Metzenmacher
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[26. June 2013] The Broken Vase

Gradually, I'll post some of my early work here, so the way (form and content) toward the Retro Art will become more visible.

The Broken Vase

My next picture was inspired by a broken vase. I began wondering whether it might not be possible to incorporate into my painting the glazed technique, as practiced for example by Zurbarán. For this reason, I did not include the vase when I laid down the second orangecolored base coat, which left the vase as the only object in white in the painting. I then stirred up a covering coat with black and carmine. I used more paint on what were to be the somewhat better illuminated areas of the finished painting in order to stretch out the colors and thus enable the lower layer of paint to come through. It was only when I was finished that I painted not in glaze but as a covering layer the broken vase opening and the ceramic fragments lying around. This makes it seem as if the ceramic fragments are stepping out of the picture, or even standing in front of it. It is only when one takes a closer look that one notices in the center of the painting the vase, which is softly lit and supported by a cold-warm contrast.

Cognitively speaking, this picture addresses the fragment of memory or fragments in general. In the past, for example, it was common practice for guests to take home with them a piece of a broken jug or vase as a "fragment of memory" after spending a pleasant evening together. The closeness felt by everyone on that evening was thus brought home in thought and feeling and one could later look at the ceramic fragment and bring to life once again the events and feelings of that night. Each guest was therefore always subsequently in possession of a symbolic piece of common experience, no matter where they might be at a particular moment.

This theme has been dealt with in many books and movies. Usually, however, it does not involve several pieces of a broken jug but instead two halves of a medallion, which when brought together have a magical effect. This magic is often used to defend an entire kingdom or country from evil tyrants. Another variation on this theme are the two lovers who are united together after numerous adventures and trials successfully mastered. The depth of the undefined background of the painting was created through the reduction in size of the individual fragments. A rather yellow, almost saintly light accentuates the poetic stillness and magic. I achieved this effect through frequent application of glazed layers of paint.


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