He negotiates love and friendship in his paintings: the painter Harald Metzkes turns 90, the gallery Sandau & Leo dedicates a birthday exhibition to him.
For a long time the colour black magically attracted the painter. After studying in Dresden, he actually wanted to become a sculptor in Berlin, Gustav Seitz, but became a master pupil of Otto Nagel. Later he wondered whether the grip "into the black barrel, the rubbing of the powder with oil was subject to the pull of the unconscious". The black contours in the early paintings are reminiscent of Picasso and Beckmann. With Berlin painter friends such as Manfred Böttcher and Werner Stötzer, Metzkes set himself apart from Socialist Realism. Only once did he accept a commission. The work "Polytechnischer Unterricht" was created in 1959 to mark the tenth anniversary of the GDR. "The future, indeed the ideals of this development, were probably not understood at all," a critic nagged. In fact, the pupils bent over the concrete mixer with deep melancholy - and nevertheless managed to make it onto a 20 Pfennig stamp of the GDR.
In the meantime, earthy tones have replaced black. Even today, Cézanne and Courbet belong to Metzke's patron saints. This can be seen in the still lifes with which everyday life creeps into art. The worn shoes, the disorder in the studio, the teapot for the break. In the close-ups, the movement freezes as if the artist of the moment had to make sure himself.
About Harald Metzkes
Born in 1929, the German artist Harald Metzkes initially studied stonemasonry from 1947 to 1949, under the sculptor Max Rothe, followed by painting at the Higher School of Fine Arts of Dresden, under Wihelm Lachnit and Rudolf Bergander. He later assisted Otto Nagel at the Berlin Academy of Arts, from 1955 to 1958.
An independent artist, Metzkes was truly active as of 1957; he was nicknamed the “Cezannist” by Prenzlauer Berg. In 1976, he received the Academy of Arts’ Käthe-Kollwitz prize and his work was presented the following year in the exhibition « Harald Metzkes – Bilder aus zwanzig Jahren », held at the Nationalgalerie of Berlin. He was awarded the German Democratic Republic (GDR) national prize in illustration and graphic design. He later participated in the Venice Biennial, in 1984, as well as in the exhibition “Kunst in der DDR’ held in 2003 at the Nationalgalerie of Berlin.
Alongside such artists as Manfred Böttcher, Ursula Wendorff-Weidt, Hans Vent, Lothar Böhme, Konrad Knebel and Werner Stötzer, Metkzes is representative of the “Berliner Schule” (Berlin Schoole). He never truly adhered to the “socialist realism” of the GDR’s cultural politics, but rather continually expressed life, nature - as well as politics - with sobriety and finesse. As he explained of his work: “My program has only two points: Nature and the eye.”
Since the 1990s, Metzkes lives in the city of Altandsberg, situated to the East of Berlin.