The doorbell rings in the gallery, “Harald!” is heard from a welcoming boom down coming down the hallway, it’s followed with two heavy pats on the back. “Hi!” replies Harald Reiner Gratz, as he lets himself fall into a nearby chair, taking both chocolate croissant and a piece of cheese in his hand (“we do this is Südthüringen”). The atmosphere of the breakfast table in Jörk Rothamel's office is now bustling with energy.

38 years ago, Rothamel and Gratz met for the first time in a parking lot in front of the entrance to a school admission exam. “That was something else,” they recollected.

They both must have succeeded in this examination as both came through with their studies, Rothamel in Art History and Gratz in Painting. Gratz studied at the Burg Giebichenstein and later at the Art Academy of Dresden. Rothamel went to St. Petersburg, received his doctorate in Leipzig and then opened his gallery in Erfurt in 1996. Here he made Harald Reiner Gratz one of his first exhibiting shows, which was named “Unorthodox Time”.  The shows climates were colourful, wild, creative and the parties legendary.

Today Gratz’s works are all about fairy tales. His new exhibition in Galarie Rothamel is not at all nostalgic or in anyway sedated.

Four years ago Gratz had begun to address issues in which he discovered at the end of his series on the actor Thomas Thieme. Gratz became attracted to the insanely vast and dense kaleidoscope of the human condition. Such themes unfold in the fumbling yet sharp words of the Brothers Grimm.

A portrait of a sharp-nosed evil stepmother now hangs on the walls of Rothamel. For Gratz, he had a lot of sympathy for the ‘bad guys’ in the fairy tales. He believes that they are bad because of simply finding themselves in a nasty situation. Gratz claims that he is instinctively on their side. As a child, Gratz enjoyed playing the evil cowboys over the good Indians. His sympathy for the evil characters can be seen in his painting of Hansel and Gretel. The evil witch is imprisoned in a cage whilst the siblings stroll away like delinquents causing havoc in the forest. "Why should the be angry just because the old crazy hippie wants to live in a gingerbread house outside the city?"

Gratz paints what is in his head - he trusts this process where he only paints the thoughts and images running through him for years, and not something that he has just read. “The images must come from here,” he says whilst tapping his forehead. “And then next you have to worry about the painting.”

Fairy tales and legends of classical antiquity fascinated him as a child. So much so that he wanted to be an archaeologist. But because the Ancient Assyrians were not as common in Schnellbach, his future had to fall on what might be his second choice, he must scribble out everything.

Along with his friend, actor Heino Ferch, Gratz developed an exhibition for the Erfurt Anger Museum for the Reformation Anniversary of 2017. “It was a cumbersome theme but I tried to break it down somehow with rather hot paintings.” Gratz remarks.

 - Junge Sujets altmeisterlich verpacktvon Marie-Louise Abele