Kretschmar is a German-born artist who currently lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Identifying as “The Boy From Behind The Wall”, Kretschmar’s work is heavily influenced by his childhood growing up in East Berlin and how that impacted his perceptions of freedom and possibility.
He worked as a film actor, script writer and music producer in Germany before turning his focus to the visual arts.
Today, The Boy From Behind The Wall has a unique platform and audience which he leverages to share his innermost stories and experiences.
Through his life and work, Ralph Kretschmar embodies the longing of an East German child for freedom and the urge to fulfill “forbidden” childhood dreams.
Kretschmar was born in 1980 in East Berlin, as the second of three children. Growing up in the border district of Prenzlauer Berg, one of the centers of opposition to the GDR regime, Kretschmar was confronted early-on with the feeling of longing for freedom. It was during this period that he came in contact with the literary and artistic movement of the city and discovered his passion for painting.
Kretschmar’s fictional character “The boy from behind the wall” is a fantasy figure from his early childhood. He was just 4 years old when he met this figure for the first time after the death of a family member. The boy from behind the wall is a friend and protector. A figure to express himself and the embodiment of freedom.
After graduating from a Physical Education high school, Kretschmar had to give up his dream of becoming a professional basketball player due to health reasons. He later pursued studies in Performing Arts in Berlin. From there he worked as a film actor, writing scripts and producing music.
In February 2019, Kretschmar left the Film Industry and has since been devoting himself exclusively to the Visual Arts. His focus is on the uncompromising expression of freedom as an existential component of his life as well as his artistic development.
He brings his most original feeling to the point as: “A biography is only so important that I alone know who I am.” – Kretschmar does not want to please, fulfill expectations or be placed in any stereotypical box.
The self-sufficiency of discovering and learning everything by himself is expressed in the unconventional way in which Kretschmar combines colors and techniques. In this way, unique works of art – untouched by foreign thoughts – are created by a contemporary witness; a boy shaped by German history.
For the distinctive structures of his works, Kretschmar uses special craft tools such as Aluminum sheets, which he cuts himself. With them, he finds the rhythm to work quickly and impulsively and “a way to balance between anger and sensitivity.”
Kretschmar’s first solo exhibition took place in October 2019 on the 30th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg. “My first exhibition takes me back to my childhood. Here, I experienced how the Berlin Wall fell. Here is where my New Beginning should start. In freedom.”
Ralph Kretschmar currently lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.