RONALD FRANKE (10.6.1960 - 30.1.2015, Köln, Germany)
Follow your Bliss - Ronald Franke
Cityscapes form the central theme in the paintings of Ronald Franke (1960-2015) who lived and worked in Cologne. In his work we see the things that we could otherwise only guess for. Franke depicted crossroads, inner city highways and tram rails, like they would emerge in photographs taken with prolonged closure time. What remains is the essence: the constructed, the unmovable…one could say: the eternal.
Yet at the same time the unmovable of the black and white cityscapes arouses in us the feeling of a pressing dynamics. This paradoxical effect emerges from the light-dark contrasts, with which the composition of the paintings is put into shape. “The eye always strives for the lightest point.” By his depiction of light Ronald Franke creates movement as well as a strong sense of depth in his paintings. Thereby lending the promise that the city continues beyond the limits of the image.
In august of 2012 Ronald Franke was diagnosed with cancer. This however changed nothing for the subject of his works, except for their sizes. Franke started to paint bigger, no longer en plein air and worked more and more in his studio. Due to his illness and the knowing of his coming death he experienced a growing urge to express himself even more intensively. Noticeable not only in conversation with him but also visible in his paintings. After hearing such news, one cannot continue as before. “The artist creates from his consciousness. When his consciousness changes, this got to have consequences for his art.”
In his last years Franke started to paint in gold: the forbidden colour. In the first of his golden paintings the cityscapes are still present yet they were preparing to vanish from his works. The roundabouts and tram rails dissolved into whirlpools of paints, in which there are no longer lines, only circles. The dynamics also changed: the eye now searches in vain for the lightest point. “Now it’s all about staying.” All that remains is the now. There is no longer a future thus all the movement in the pictures ceases to move forward. The whirlpools move inward, towards their center – into themselves.
“Actually I have always been concerned with the same subject” was what Ronald Franke said when he, shortly before his death, looked back on all his previous drawings and paintings and put them before his own judgment. From the start is was about transience and decay. In the start with the canal-lock-paintings, in which the ship was a metaphor for a tomb, as in the cityscapes where the roads and crossroads depict the paths we walk in our lives. Yet in the end we’re confronted with the golden paintings in which we see the golden colour of the undying and eternal.
(translated by Donald Schenkel)