Patrick Roggenbau, a European Renaissance artist, celebrates his art and shares his masterworks created while living in Wellington throughout South Florida. Born and raised in Aachen, Germany, he grew up with two main passions: art and horses.
“For me, it has always been art and horses,” he said. “So, I always focused on both, the art of training horses and paintings.”
The artist is drawn to Wellington, like many world-class equestrians, as a place where he can focus on his art without losing his upbringing with horses. “Growing up in Aachen, you breathe horses,” Roggenbau said. “The CHIO Aachen competition in July is one of the biggest events in Germany — in fact, in the world. Every year, it takes over the entire city. People who have nothing to do with horses join in the event because it’s the biggest social event of the year; a huge, weeklong gathering.”
Bringing together the lifestyle of art, Roggenbau is welcoming. “I’m an artist who really loves to relate with people. I love the feedback,” he said. “I always have a relationship with my work. I love to talk about it, and I love people and the social gatherings. For me, it is about connecting with people.”
He has an upcoming show at Art Wynwood, Feb. 15-19, in Miami. “It’s such a gift, art, for me,” he explained. “The more I can show my art and connect with others, the happier I am.”
During the past 10 years, he has shown his works in Bologna, Italy; Chicago; and Wiesbaden, Germany. In 2009, Roggenbau was one of four selected artists to participate in a month-long event for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. “We started showcasing our art for one month in Aachen, and then the show traveled around Germany, and finally to Berlin,” he said.
Now he showcases his art here in Wellington, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
“A few years ago, I moved to Florida full-time, and I’m focused on my art. I paint people, horses, landscapes and dogs — just about anything. I like to capture the soul of the being in front of me. I want to capture the personality,” Roggenbau said. “There is something special there. That is my duty as an artist to bring that out. It’s something that has more than a momentary message. It’s something that is forever.”
He is also a creator of beautiful murals, a canvas painter, and he also sketches illustrations for books and more. Often compared to Caravaggio, he just completed a show that took place at Bahia Mar Yacht Club in Fort Lauderdale.
“At my last art show, someone compared me to Caravaggio, a contemporary take on him. My roots show through, my Renaissance training,” he said. “One world nurtures the other. I loved the classical training I learned in training horses as a young man in Aachen, and I love art and painting. One goes with the other in my life. Both are a process.”
Becoming a painter was not Roggenbau’s initial plan.
“My formal education in Germany was hard. I studied Roman languages and art to become a teacher in Germany,” he recalled. “My teacher said to me, ‘You are too talented to become a teacher. You must focus on art.’ And that is what I did. I focused on art and gave up my interest in horses for a while. I received a scholarship to paint in Italy. It was that same art professor who made that happen, and I am grateful. I truly believed I would never have the chance to be an artist because that is how we are raised in Germany. I thought I could only become a teacher.”
He loved languages and set out to learn French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, English and Dutch. “I was lucky because Aachen is a small German triangle of different countries,” Roggenbau said. “In five minutes you can be in Holland or Belgium. You go shopping in Holland and have a coffee in Belgium and have dinner in Germany.”
Learning equestrian disciplines in Germany is not easy.
“In Germany, we have the riding school, and it’s very serious,” Roggenbau said. “In Germany, you have a very strict instructor, and as a young boy, I didn’t like that. Later in life, I met a dressage rider with a beautiful style, and I found the artistic side of riding. Then, I wanted to pursue that communication and that connection with the horses.”
Though he never competed, Roggenbau worked horses up to the Grand Prix dressage level.
On the way to his full scholarship at the Academia San Loenzo de Medici, in Florence, Italy, Roggenbau had to complete a three-month Italian cultural studies program.
“I first went to university in Duisburg, Germany. That is where I received my scholarship. Before I could go to Italy and study there, the Academia San Lorenzo de Medici requires foreigners to take a cultural class for three months on language, history and geography to be prepared,” he explained. “I did that in Siena, Italy, which was absolutely fabulous. It is a city that is breathtaking.”
Siena just happens to also be a city with a rich history of horses.
“It has the oldest horse race in history called the Palio di Siena,” Roggenbau said. “Horses are something that always are crossing my path. I even became part of a contrada [part of the city, like a neighborhood]. There are 17 contradas, and each contrada puts in a horse each year for this horse race. The year I was there, my contrada won the race.”
From there, he went to Florence and studied for three years, finishing with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.
“To study in Florence, you are surrounded by the world’s greatest works of art. There is Leonardo de Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello. When I finished, I was glad I had made it through, because it was really tough,” Roggenbau said. “While I was in Florence, I was a little bit intimidated, as you can imagine, because you are surrounded by these amazing paintings and fine art by so many wonderful artists. It was amazing to learn there. I learned everything I could, including the business side of art.”
Painting is something that comes naturally to him.
“There are times as a painter when it just flows, and it’s easy. There isn’t a moment you can willingly repeat. The other things are already there, and you have to work hard and really use technique, but what is so amazing is how it can all come so easy and just flow,” Roggenbau said. “Sometimes I can compare that to working with a horse, working on the trot to passage to a piaffe. You just float into it. It all just happens. And sometimes it doesn’t come that easily, and you know what commands you have to give, and the horse doesn’t respond in that harmonious manner. For me, riding horses is an art. I don’t see it as a competitive sport as much as I see the artistic qualities within the horse and rider pairs.”
The artist enjoys his life in Wellington.
“I am connected to Wellington because of the horses and because I managed my own stables and worked within the horse business for more than 20 years,” he said. “I didn’t show horses, though I was a part of the care and management. We bred horses, trained horses, gave lessons and we sold horses, all Spanish and German horses.”