“I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then” Bob Seger
The walls are filled with drawings, from the bottom to the top. More than forty sheets of paper of different dimensions, some framed, some hanging freely, some realised with pencils, others with marker pens or watercolours; some just carrying some sentences, some having short texts written in English or German next to their graphics; despite this visual plurality, all of them have been made out of three colours only: orange, green and violet.
Mixing together personal memories and popular culture stories and elements, Ralf Tekaat creates Rosebud (2014-2015), a site-specific associative game that mixes together art history references, childhood memories, speculations and induction of thoughts. As eventually happens in Tekaat's practice, he started to work on Rosebud in a first time and then left the project alone for a little while in order to re-elaborated it in a second moment, re-arranging the composition and enlarging it with new visual material. For the exhibition Far From Any Road at Asia Contemporary Art Platform NON Berlin Rosebud was indeed expanded with new drawings and texts, revolving around three key-colours: purple, orange and green. They can be folded together as in Jasper Jones' Target, but they also seem to have independent lives related to the artist's cognitive associations: childhood memories about places and people, along with their contemporary, speculative elaborations. The memories related to one colour's combination with the others originate new connections with the past, which assumes different visual forms as drawings and notes. Vinyl covers, geometrical forms, a sketched portrait, a glove without fingertips: random, familiar objects that there, isolated from their general context, are brought together to generate a new frame of meanings.
About Rosebud, the artist says: “I stand in front of this painting of Jasper Johns a starred at the target in orange, green and violet. It was similar like a long forgotten smell, which you do not forget. These three colours remind me at a vague childhood memory. Does it remind me to a game, maybe Memory or Spitz pass auf! ? Was it my most beloved toy Indian, a matchbox car or a t-shirt or pyjama? I still try to find it.” The perpetual questioning of Tekaat is contagious: the viewer is captured by the act of building his or her own narrative sequence, passing from one drawing to the other, freely choosing if connecting the image of a child's room with a yellow tent placed in just above or the green, furry monster sketched next to it – somehow reminding to the popular gamebooks from the '90s, where the reader could choose how to proceed into the story by actively making decisions at the end of each chapter, having access to multiple ends of the fiction. Furthermore, the whole installation acts as a metaphor for the process of recalling, storytelling and forgetting.
Smoothly and playfully, Ralf Tekaat makes us understand that memories are inevitably destined to fade and the process of remembering some objects, people or situations still lies in mystery. By exploring the possibilities of his medium Tekaat shows to the viewers that behind each drawing there is a larger, invisible picture, which remains unknown and impenetrable. Rosebud is a lyrical game about the apparent nonsenses of life itself and an inner praise to childhood's insouciance.
Elisa Rusca (MA), Berlin, 2016