Persona April, 13th 2018 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 161 - Ralph van Meijgaard

ralph – 1, 80×50

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 161 – Ralph van Meijgaard
Ralph van Meijgaard’s studio is large and high, white and clean. On the right wall he hung on the occasion of my visit a series of paintings, a series of small paintings of 24 x 30 cm, and at the far left a large one, of 120×200 cm.
I look at the series of paintings. At first glance, I see icons, but if they are already icons, they do not have the function to make something clear immediately. When I look a bit longer, I see a number of shapes coming back, sometimes slightly different, sometimes in combination with a different shape.

ralph – 2 , 24×30

Playing with shapes
There is the profile of an escalator, a dark radar-like sun that has been doubled once or more, a kidney in horizontal position, a grenade, three thick branches in the forest where an extinguishing white cloud comes out – in the form of a speech bubble, a flat cheese or soap with bubbles and a canoe, which comes back in many ways, as a flat accolade, as a kind of croissant. They are Van Meijgaard’s shapes that at some point turned up, were polished and proved so strong that they became part of his vocabulary.

ralph – 3, 40×50

And with those shapes he plays, there are whole series. Some shapes are very common, others less and in some cases a shape is only applied in two or three works. But the possibility that these rare shapes will still be used is always present. “I sometimes pull up a previously developed shape and it turns out to be perfectly fitting and combinable.”

ralph – 4, 40×50

In the second painting from the left we see a large black canoe and underneath in the lower half of the painting a dozen or so white canoes that can represent a keyboard or backrests. In the middle is a text ‘contribuent a entretenir ….’ and underneath ‘helpen de modellen …. ‘. Van Meijgaard. “I rarely use texts, but when I came across this one, as subtitles in a film clip, I even used it as the title of an exhibition.”

ralph – 5, 50×80

On the left he hung a large work on which a chair and a bed can be recognized in a gray labyrinth pattern. There is a wheel both under the seat and on the leg of the upright bed. Viewed slightly differently, the bed seems to be a scaffold, where a suspect will be executed and then be removed.
But that is of course a possible interpretation. Van Meijgaard: “When I graduated from the academy, my work consisted of a kind of allegorical scenes in large format, figures in situations, archetypal in character. Later it became more emblematic, from the need to make the visual language more compact and more general. In the course of time the narrative disappeared more in the construction and the shape remained. And the viewer can still fill in on it themselves. “

ralph – 6, 80×100

Key work
Are there key works, works that functioned as a pivot point? In any case, there is literally a key work in which two bulbs – full of air? – are superimposed on top of each other by a series of radiator keys. The upper sphere is pink, the lower white. “A work from 2007, you can see it as a vanitas painting, with the lower sphere as a skull.”
In addition to this literal key work, there are works that can be named as such afterwards and there are key works that ‘announce’ something. Van Meijgaard has often filled a whole wall with work next to and above each other. He did this in the XX Multiple Gallery in the Witte de Withstraat and the WTC Gallery in the Rotterdam Beurs (Rotterdam Exchange).

“Shapes come back and paintings react to each other. Through combinations and succession, a new image often arises that evokes new meanings and associations. Precisely because the visual language has been implemented in this way a sort of speculative space is created. That is why I have presented the paintings as a block a number of times.” Just like that is already the case, in fact, with the series of small paintings next to each other. “It is almost unfortunate if the most striking works are sold from such a tableau.”

ralph – 7, 160×200

Buddha-like monkey
Van de Meijgaard takes a different type of painting from the storage cabin. It is a large black-and-white work with graphic patterns, à la Gerd Arntz, in which flat human figures sit on and over each other, but at the right at the bottom I see the familiar grenade shape. Will the carefully composed configuration explode?
And I look at another shape: the buddha-like monkey with an enormous (red) sexual organ in various combinations: one with the ‘baseball bat’ in a dark starry night, another with a wrapped mattress above a collapsed slatted base, a yellow nose-like triangle, which also returns in variations.
In 1982, Ralph van Meijgaard completed the Rotterdam Academy for Visual Arts, nowadays the Willem de Kooning Academy. He was taught in drawing, painting and designing. It was the time that, after a period of conceptual art, painting was once again on the rise. Between 1990 and 2010 he also taught there.

ralph – 8, 240×200

Rotterdam Vakmanstad (Craftsman City)
He is also involved in Rotterdam Vakmanstad, founded by the Rotterdam philosopher Henk Oosterling who asked him to set up a kitchen for a primary school in Rotterdam South. He has been working there as a coordinator / cook / teacher for more than nine years. “We realized a kitchen for the OBS Bloemhof, built and financed by Vestia. From that kitchen we provide about 300 pupils a healthy hot lunch daily. Healthy, varied and fresh must ensure flavor development and social development. Cooking and flavor lessons support this so that the concept of food wisdom takes shape. In addition, RVS also provides garden lessons in ecosophy, judo, aikido and technique lessons. The underlying idea is that children can develop physically, socially and mentally stronger. The program is now financially supported by the Verre Bergen foundation.

ralph – 9, escalator viral 120×200

Vakmanstad is now working with several primary schools, a VMBO and various partners from the social field. At the moment we are working on the further development of all learning lines, methodologies, so that in the future schools will be able to work with the learning materials themselves. With the learning lines there is an integrated effect of a number of concepts such as media wisdom and eco-wisdom, which gives children a stronger sense of their own responsibility in society. “

ralph – 14

In this way, unexpected parallels can be drawn. Just as he recycles shapes in his paintings, there is recycling on a different scale at his Rotterdam Vakmanstad activities. “It provides useful and pleasant insights and it also has the advantage that in this way I have been able to finance my development independently of subsidy flows.” 

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