» In the world machine
Dr. Ernst A. Busche

» New German Painting
Christoph Tannert

» An Overdose of a Painterly Substance of Desire

Christoph Tannert

» The Recollected and the Fictive
Dr. Jürgen Schilling

» An Approach
Birgit Acar

» The Slaughtering of Paradises
Christoph Tannert


In the world machine    by Ernst A. Busche

Florian Pelka‘s dramas are at once disturbing and powerful, threatening and vital. His world is not a friendly one, it is full of insecurity and danger, fatigue and apocalyptic mood. Surreal spaces are filled with mysterious human figures, with animals and strange hybrids. The disaster seems to emanate not only from the figures, but also from the aggressive, shrill colour, which appears as an actor of its own in these pictures.
The scenery is both familiar and strange to us. The characters come from fairy tales and mythologies, from medieval fables and grotesque farces, from history and presence. We see ancient personnel - Medea, Hecate, Apollonia - next to fools, the philosopher as a rag-and-bone king, and the proverbial „mad scientist“, who makes the stars circle on a silken thread and brews the odd thing in his modern alchemist‘s kitchen. And then there is the animal world: delicate and fragile beings like butterfly and dragonfly, but also strong, aggressive creatures like swan, tapir and lion. The figure of the monkey is the link between the human and animal world.
References to the present ensure that events do not (only) take place in the past or timelessness. In the work, we find trivial objects of our modern world, neon-lit advertising typography, speech bubbles from comic strips, garden fence and stop sign, and a woman dressed in madonna-like blue who wants to slay her dragonfly with a carpet beater. And each face is very present, from today.
Florian Pelka‘s pictorial world is characterized by the blending of subjects and times, signs and figures, narratives and levels of reality. Here the hunter encounters a monumental garden path with a wheelbarrow, there the well-known statue of Goethe and Schiller stands under palm trees in the middle of nowhere, there black warriors wearing helmets with dangerous antelope horns gather under a Coca-Cola sign. And a man, whose head is stuck in a kind of globe, rises from a larva as a winged man.
But even if individual figures dominate the sceneries, it is often not so much them as the events in which they are involved that are at the center. A few titles may suffice to indicate the eventfulness of the pictorial world: „On Reaching the Plain,“ „Dying in Beauty,“ „Drift,“ „The Triumph of Reason,“ and finally, as oppressive as it is ambiguous, „They Are Coming.“ There is something threatening about it, it‘s just „Spooky Times“. On the other hand, the macabre ritual of skinning hunted animals bears the contemplative title „In the Moonlight“.
It is a piece of world theatre that is spread out here, that theatrum mundi from the Renaissance and Baroque which spelled out the vanity and nothingness of the world. It is fitting that Florian Pelka studied philosophy and literature before turning to art. He is what was called „pictor doctus“ in earlier times, a scholarly painter.
Colour plays its very own role, in two ways. On the one hand it is the coloration, often neon-glaring, alarmist, Bengali luminous. A poisonous green, contrasted by a blood red, plus ominous, flickering yellow, perfidious violet and bottomless blue.
On the other hand, the paint detaches itself from the objects, becomes independent and an object in itself and underlines the eventfulness of the images. Like snakes it creeps through the scenery, foams up like spray and surf, pours over the canvas like a stream, flashes as a thunderstorm of paint, rains down from the sky like fire, rages through the room like crazy ghosts.
Pelka‘s expressive brushwork is still evidence of his studies with Georg Baselitz; but it is captured by clearly defined constructivist patterns, such as rhombuses and colour fields that run through the picture as broad bands or take on an independent life and diverge, virtually explode.  All this contributes to the extraordinary presence, force and urgency that characterize the paintings. They are charged with tension and energy, are powerful, downright explosive.  A blissful immersion in myths and fairy tales is impossible.
The painting „Die and Become“ is something like a key picture. Goethe coined the well-known formulation in his poem „Blessed Desire“ from the West-Eastern Divan. It‘s about death and rebirth, about metamorphosis. „I will praise the living, that longs to die in flames.“ As long as man does not have this „die and become“, Goethe says, he is „only a gloomy guest on the dark earth“.
The already mentioned eccentric scientist (who vaguely resembles Einstein) has an armillary sphere hanging by a thread, like a yoyo. This astronomical device, which shows the course of celestial bodies, used to be called a „world machine“. Opposite him on the other side of the picture sits a boy who playfully reaches for a dragonfly. Both „players“ threaten to be swallowed up by the maelstrom of paint. This „die!“ is contrasted by the „become!“ of the fresh green leaves and the opening flowers at the bottom of the picture.
In view of the contradictions and absurdities of human existence, we can understand this
situation as a metaphor of confidence: although man can destroy the world in his delusion, hope remains that the new will rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
It is a situation that Florian Pelka has recently experienced himself. A studio fire destroyed a large part of his œuvre; all the paintings presented in this catalog were created after the blaze. In a most practical way, it is the artist who brings phoenix - the art - back to life after it has been burned. In a metaphorical sense, it is the artistic work, the creative act as such, that stands for the mythical bird: a sign of optimism.



New German Painting
published by Christoph Tannert, Prestel Munich 2007, 256 pages,
140 pictures, german/ english,
ISBN: 3-7913-3666-5
(...) Now is the time for us to cast our comparing eye over the pictures painted by Florian Pelka (Berlin) who, bored by the beautiful virtual reality of fashion, has also lowered the temperature of his paintings (fig. 38). Even though Pelka´s pictures are full of conspicious signals, they show themselves as zones of an extreme lack of narration. He avoids any kind of narrative pretence, he shows us, with great clarity, the manipulity of the age and aura, reflection and paranoia - without denying history, although this, consumed by fame, more often appears as chyronized science fiction than as an Ariadne´s thread leading through life. Pixel after pixel, brushstroke after brushstroke, the observer is put into a precarious situation. Those things which were previously steadfast stipulations, cornerstones of everybody´s identity, are now, all together, nothing more than a handful of Bengal lights in an ocean of data streaming around us.



An Overdose of a Painterly Substance of Desire

by Christoph Tannert (curator, director Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin)

The first thing one notices about Florian Pelka's new paintings is the excessive desire for the lushness of the paint itself; a contagious, pulling feeling - also for the viewer - of something unidentifiable but that repeatedly demands to be stilled. Then comes a strange neon-hued chromatic structure that ranges from brilliant yellow to cool violet. It is reminiscent of the light
of a television screen or computer monitor ?and of violet sugar. At times, Pelka applies the paint so richly that it becomes
irresistibly tactile.

Just as digital objects are immaterial and able to be manipulated upon the screens of the information society, Pelka's iridescent surfaces and perplexing spatial images offer the eye a mutable appearance. Additive color mixing occurs when variably colored points of an object lie so close together that the emitted light has a small difference in angles as it enters the eye. In a color television set or a computer monitor, the representation of a colored point of the image is caused by three closely neighboring points of color. Here, the three primary colors red, green and blue are used, which explains the "RGB color system" designation. Depending upon the three color points' brightness, certain impressions result in the eye. Pelka is well aware of the tipping points within the color system. He takes his own from these daily experiences with artificial light; from the smoldering painterly hues of sunset, gangrene and surfing the ether. In Zweifel und Wunder, the representations of an on/off switch as well as a flat-screen monitor very clearly refer to described connections in an almost ironic and unsettling way.

Pelka's images act as a shifting appearance of colored light, as if the light were the substitute for the stream of data. It is more an act of blinding than of illumination. In light of the presently escalating, uncritical worship of "Dresden Pop", as well as the "New Leipzig School"'s Böcklin-esque mustiness (especially the remote detonation of fog grenades upon the American art market), Pelka's artistic position is a self-aware stance against categorization. Pelka may be far along in confidently counteracting the danger of premature neutralization.

Although he does not emphasize honorable museum discipline, his painting confirms exactly this, though he approaches a supremely curious game with the means of its fascination. Pelka is here and there, pursues the birth of the idea of a painting from the idea of a painting. He paints works that are simultaneously abstract and figurative; entangles past, present, future; rills the surfaces and then heroically thrusts into the unknown depths of space: a romantic finding and losing, a chivalrous concealing and revealing that slowly and suggestively accompanies the painting during the process of its creation.

While Pelka's images are full of noticeable references, they
present themselves as distinctly denarrative zones. Pelka does not narrate. He rather leads the manipulability of lifetime and aura, reflection and paranoia before our eyes - without be-
traying history. Yet this, devoured by fame, appears more often as science fiction than as the convoluted threads in the painter's life history. Pixel by pixel, brushstroke by brushstroke, the viewer is led down the garden path. What were once adamantly firm understandings, cornerstones of an identity, are now, together, nothing more than a handful of a lightning bolts in an ocean of data streaming around us. The result is that the orientation points are virtualized and relativized into a collection of coincidences.
For he who has decided not on a destruction of forms but rather on their construction, building an image is the most important, the primary. One may want to leave lost values lost, and lay all the weight of nihilistic feeling into the formal and constructive powers of the spirit. Voraciously wanting to know everything, in search of the lessons of truth (Pelka studied philosophy and German studies in addition to art), he speaks on the often misunderstood assertion that style is superior to truth (in conversation with the author on September 13, 2005). But why? Because style carries the proof of existence in itself, while truth need only be believed. Skepticism, the abnegation of belief, creates style exactly for this reason. Pelka therefore confidently puts his sampling style - his subjective, individual truth - into the world.

He unites spaces and planes somewhere in the foundationless cellar in the cathedral of thought, pries open petrifactions, throws it all into a pot, begins creating conceptual bridges, does not conceal contradictions, but rather accepts them and the image ultimately celebrates a permanently blown cosmic fuse.

The object of Pelka's images is, above all, color. Tottering spatial compartments, implied stages, the interlaying and interlocking of planes, the labyrinthine combination of various realities,
symbols of intellectual acrobatics and objects that only purport
to be symbols. The concrete, the abstract and a high degree
of the absurd mix into always densely worked compositions.

Pictograms of the urban space are found in Zweifel und Wunder, as are figures with symbolic character. The viewer's horizon can shift at all times. Geometric elements not only lie on the surface, but also melt with and in the color. Perspective is implied through the run of a guardrail, but then loses itself somewhere in the veil of paint. The images from which Pelka gleans his aggressive seduction can both draw the viewer in or hold him at bay. They hint at the world's symbolic language; query the interlinking of the designating and the designated, about how meaning comes to be. Because, in the process, Pelka does not treat his prototypical motifs and objects indifferently, with dry brushes, but rather dizzily, exuberantly renders the work, and evidence of a painterly tenderness emerges that is instantly overwhelming. What appears to be an abstract chromatic scheme is far more a concrete one of radical devotion or an identity shift - as Zeus attempted to be able to seduce Leda in the form of a swan.

The present possibilities of visualization offer enormous potential not only for art but also for the natural sciences and mathematics. One need only remember that some of the very difficult mathematical theories first became popular in that images of their algorithms could be created and the theories appeared to be accessible. Because today we perceive the world through icons or systems of symbols more quickly than via natural occurrences, it is increasingly normal for art to implant shifting perceptions into the creation of images in the traditional media.

When certain pictograms appear in Pelka's images, they emerge not only as aesthetic form, but as quotes referring to the world of products. They are also references within the art-immanent reflection of the object of "the painting." Even if one can say that the avant-garde agenda is somewhat of a liberation from the representation of the material world; that the release of color from its value of representation and that representation in general, up to an aesthetic negativism, has failed, art then can no longer be understood through a concept of beauty or truth.
What looks like a swan in Pelka's painting is exactly like a toy figure of a knight or a clown. It is a prototype, a manifested image through which experience becomes at all possible. Art as an institutionalized modeling of the world may here constitute a new, unusual frame in the context of opening or developing the world, in which image, appearance, illusion or imagination flow into each other and can no longer be valid as instances of differentiation. Pelka imagines and sees the things as he will, and sees to it that it is a pleasure.

A mixture of hunger for the world, emotionalism and longing - a tendency toward the symbolic and handling with abstract elements - creates everything in all of these floating overtones. This is essentially the most absolute romanticism. The original Parsival by Wolfram von Eschenbach - this hero sunk into melancholy, but treated with a good deal of irony in his question of identity - has pulled Pelka through emotional valleys and over perceptive heights to the un-heroic side (something the artist does not deny!). Dissatisfied with hasty, supposedly valid truths, it is from here that Pelka battles against the flood of symbols and the superficial acceleration of experience with means of alienation.

Pelka develops a network of meta-levels with the necessary means of retro, on which the epically salient swan song and the careful, quotable contact of things could be valid as a vote for all pervasive doubt.

C. T.



Dr. Jürgen Schilling
(Art historian, Berlin)

The Recollected and the Fictive

In Florian Pelka's painting, immediately clear, figurative elements merge with diffuse abstract parts. These elements veil space and perspective, regulate the modulation of light, construct
connections or even lop alleged contextual references that seem to communicate with each other. From these develop staggered, roaming, layered and sprawling areas representing steam, clouds, earth and water and that simultaneously and urgently connote a game with the fascinating coloristic opportunities that open during the painting process. Ornamental inserts in the form of arabesques, segments from circles and curves -which could take the form of a banister or barricade- occasionally intervene into the composition. These geometric, decorative forms creep into implied definitions of a clear space and add dynamism to the areas they run through - similar to what we know from Renaissance ornamentalism- then delineate boundaries and capture a complex system of surfaces. They also assign a position to the viewer, who is excluded by such barriers, and his expectations of meaning. Here, their exact arrangement and bright, even too bright colors stand in contrast to their primarily flowing structure. Bands of color portraying
inexplicable material properties - are they metallic or soft as silk? - play their game with virtual spatial composition and viewer illusion; tumescently flowing into the image's fore- and background with enigmatic, mysterious clarity of purpose.

Similar to how one may like to construct references to applied art, architecture and product design via serially utilized ornaments, the analogy of the motifs Pelka imbeds in the painting - which confront us at every turn with the universe of signs, signals and icons - becomes obvious; all these pictograms that regulate every area of life. Stylized images are represented instead of lettered script. Beyond language barriers - because they depend on international understanding and save space - these images ease the orientation in street traffic as they do on the computer screen. As a contemporary hieroglyphic, they are concerned with the fantasy of poster designers or even packaging graphics whose specific signs symbolize much more than just "up," "down," "keep upright" or "keep dry," as they stand for a continuing process of global communication. Recognizable logos from more than a billion registered trademarks in Germany alone promise quality upon purchase and strengthen consumer belief in acquiring their valuable goods and services. Memorable visuals and the continual use of symbols on packaging, in display windows or on business cards allow the difference between no-name products and have existed since the time of Augsburg traders Fugger and Welser, but especially since the 19th century, when what was important was "to tame anonymous masses of buyers"1, characteristic for the corporate identity of the corporations they represented.

Cubism, Dadaism and later Pop Art and Nouveau Realisme concerned themselves, in various ways, with advertising´s visual tactics of, as well as with the ubiquitous trivial information carriers in a sphere glutted with appealing messages. While they integrate their symbols as objet trouvé, Pelka confronts them in a painterly way, in that he sees them as a point of departure and places them within an environment that hardly represents its essence. Because their assorted components coalesce into each other and transform themselves into a completely new and different kind of statement, they lose their original functional meaning as part of a complex visual message. The allusions integrated into the painting may immediately speak to the viewer's interest, since his memory re-recognizes what is familiar and may interpret it in the context organized by the artist. The symbolic character is lost - at least partially - and the symbolism concentrates on the total iconographic arrangement. Certain repeating and varying motifs that Pelka adds to the painting's arrangement want to be understood as allegories anchored in the collective consciousness, the image's construction determined by color and gesture. There is, for example, the rigidly smiling, masklike face of a pizza baker who offers us his product; the empty bench or canvas camping chair from which one could look into a dream landscape. Or one encounters variations thereof, which - deserted - exist in the foreground of a nocturnal garden scenario, which seems to report of an
interrupted party. The lanterns still move deceptively in the
wind, but the partygoers have already turned their backs on the
location and have left an oppressive situation behind. The
harmonious tends to decline into the eerie in a nonverbal way - a stylistic means employed by the Romantics and Surrealists is interpreted in the language of our time.

Quotidian subjects like supermarket shopping carts are a recurring theme; their patterns painted as filigree silhouettes over a shelf full of chocolate-covered round spongecakes, between the display of a store or, just as an abstract signal, centrally in the middle of a small-format work set in front of an abstract wall surface. A tent and pine trees that move with a warm wind, added palms on the Caribbean reefs like we know from travel brochures are deemed worthy by Pelka; as are auto scooters, whose representation automatically awakens not only dreams and nostalgic memories, but also connects to the image of fun fairs or amusement parks; places of pleasure, exuberance and consumption. All of these objects appear schematic, emblematically fixed, as if they were frozen. The illustration of details is ignored, human images appear simply incidentally, as if stenciled; or their presence is suggested through abandoned objects and the insertion of classical architectural elements. "In the anonymous blueprint of my motifs," writes Pelka, "is also an ethereal atmosphere of the absent. The human image is only shown through its placeholder." 2 Its ostensible real appearance as a clown is therefore made relative in that it presents itself with all its typical accessories. Its artificial gesture and pose on a pedestal, however, reveals it to be a toy figure. Model figures and illustrations serve as templates for the few human forms that Pelka utilizes in his painterly discourse. Knights and a melancholy rider - retrospective vestiges of the visual repertoire of the heroic epic and 19th-century painting - are immediately positioned next to a modern screen in which a horse's head appears. These vestigial elements are thereby set into a surprising context. Memory, fiction and undisguised fabrication -specific characteristics of contemporary painting - condition these paintings as much as the ironic echoes of historical artistic styles. Composition and technique accentuating the material's sensual components surpass the episode's implied fragmentary elements. Abbreviations that sequentially flow into the image, and radically interrupted narrative threads that comment on a neosurrealist strategy are hallmarks of Pelka's samplings.

Only the method of the painterly discourse transmits the illusion of oscillating movement that determines the essence of all of the works. From the vaguely defined and still texturally dense layers, these interference-ridden forcefields imply that they were placed in continual flux; the objects elevate themselves from Pelka's storehouse of motifs without actively pushing themselves or their contextual weight into the foreground. The exceptions are represented, at best the clearly accentuated renderings of some specific animals that Pelka implants into his cosmos. Apes and swans, and recently horses, have been some of the most popular ritualistic and profane motifs. The iconographic interpretation of the primates - often appearing with manlike features, even beyond literary references, and still sharing a biological class with humans as late as the 18th century3- sees itself as representative of its libidinousness and cunning. But the latter, besides its equally erotic components, embodies light and purity in some myths and religions (although the middle ages demonized it). And in symbolic iconography the horse is often spoken of as a representation of vitality as well as a creature with magical powers. Although these atmospheric depictions invite the viewer to such interpretations, Pelka is especially fascinated by "the ?show talents' of the swan ... its downy, proud appearance, its magnificent illusion ... its two faces of possessiveness": essential characteristics that Pelka combines with the "demimonde of the beautiful illusion" of a carnival and the "abstraction of pictograms."4 In his creations, the animals take the place of an additional, essential cipher that is also a "counterpoint of a medially represented world"5. The integration of animal motifs delivers visual material; they send an appeal for imagination to the viewer, as certain original rock formations and surreal growths simultaneously fulfill formal functions as building blocks of an individual pictorial grammar.
A puzzling vocabulary in an interplay with narrative elements held together by the maelstrom of color make these engineered paintings -in all their practical detail - into fictional stages of melancholy-romantic events whose atmosphere plumbs awareness and assumes the emotional readiness to add another something in a mute dialogue activated by the painting. "Images are not a world language, but a language in the world. As modest, independent linguistic elements they are more like poems, but connected in many societal and artistic contexts. With this, an image has neither the function of affirmation nor of negation. Rather, it represents, in its core, a relativity without end."6




Birgit Acar
(Art historian, Berlin)

An Approach

What power accumulates from the emblematic, abbreviated representation of reality, the visual clichés and icons of the information and consumer society? Which methods of the appearance of reality ? which increasingly is transmitted only via the media ? condition our perception? It is in these areas of reflection ? an iconographic and phenomological questioning ? that the work of Florian Pelka?s work is located. Here, the artist creates a bridge into the sensual, material power of painting.

The "Abstract" series explores the technically determined idiosyncrasies of modern media, especially those from electronically created monitor images. Our usual way of seeing often corresponds less to perception than to an accelerated impression. Interferences, phantoms and aberrations become obvious when slowed down to fixed images. In this world, the paint itself no longer seems to adhere to the objects. These phenomena are the foundation for a momentous interaction with paint not as local color but rather as an aspect of light.

In the "Artikel" ("Articles") series, for example, brushstrokes run over the entire canvas, similar to the scanning lines of monitor images. They structure the surface; give the painting an unusual texture. Pelka begins a game of mutations and permutations with the color rhythms, emphasized by very liquid and very dry paint application. The result is as dynamic as its creation; the shimmering and glimmering lend the image a vibrating presence. In the video installation "Haut" ("Skin"), the same formal endeavor is easily arrived at in another medium. It is the surface of the human body that relentlessly accepts new fluctuating and vibrating convolutions. Compressed air evokes literal impressions. As a manipulative way of overstimulation, these impressions let the human form mutate.

Abstracted forms and clearly delineated symbols are also increasingly worked into the rendered painting texture. Like strange elliptical emblems, pictograms from the consumer-product world, as well as technical symbols, seemingly demand interpretation. The desire for explanation awakens in the viewer. In the urban space, don?t even simple instructional symbols on an orientational boards evoke moments of familiarity? Don?t schematic, typified diagrams on instruction manuals hold a certain attraction? Isn?t our fixation on the medial landscape of corporate and brand symbols legitimate? The promises coupled with these symbols offer a possibility of projection, even identification. In our world, logos may have gained iconographic value from symbols that impart meaning, something that could be compared to earlier eras? coats of arms or religious symbols. Embedded in the lively stream of color, Pelka?s forms consciously leave this space for meaning open. Magically active forms, however, temporarily leave the viewer spellbound, and then rise again in the painterly organization of images.

The expanded thematic focus is also reflected anew in a video work. "Signal" was created in anonymous public locations like airports. Here, brands or corporate logos are ex post facto, replaced with simplified abstracted symbols. Yet in their undulation, they seem to steer and control the movements of people. In slow-motion images and over pulsating sounds, human behavior is revealed, almost as a collective herd movement, almost as expectant shudder. An absurd religion of symbols seems to be brought to light through dismantling, and satirized as a modern form of image use.

The image space is understood in a more playful way in work cycles since 2004. This work is increasingly populated with figurative motifs. These are displaced remnants of the societal environment; the human does not appear. Things from the consumer world, for example, are represented, but in a schematic way. Like packaging, shopping carts or auto scooters that speak of a society?s desires and values. It is especially these most common things that let themselves be explained only prototypically as industrial projects in the paintings. They reveal no true context that dominates the painting. Rendered in a reduced or fragmented way, organized serially or entwined with other objects and forms, they remain only models and clichéd quotations. The resulting eerie feeling could come from the fact that things like a waiting bench or a disposable cup can be so simply and collectively culled from our visual memory. The images find themselves in a strange poise between various interpretational possibilities on various abstract levels of meaning. The representational motifs themselves are often organized in staggered perspectives. They overtake only the function of ciphers of a world that appears strange. At times, this deconstruction can be read ironically; at times it connects itself to a poetic atmosphere of the imponderable. The figurative elements always impose the material-aesthetic power of the paintings even more sensually, concretely, on the viewer. The painterly ease with which the representational fragments are integrated seems to leave the question of their exact meaning.

The "Affen" ("Apes") are a thematic counterpoint to a medially represented reality. In this animal, we see original, authentic power. At the same time, the ape, so closely related to us, asks the question of our own natures and the crucial differentiation of human intelligence. Primates can learn to operate with signs and symbols. What is the counterpoint in our look on reality, conditioned by models and symbols, still perception; what remains authentic experience? Representing gorillas on facial tissues actually intended for the human face makes drawing the boundaries even more difficult. We stand in front of a mirror. The apes seem captured, often self-conscious in the tissues? strict edges over a serially striped background. The apes? affliction and uncertainty brings the mirror image closer than we expect. It becomes a psychological projection surface.

Beyond the painting, Pelka?s works explore conditions and possibilities of representing reality in images. With this, they are not only immediately expressive expressions of a feeling of life in the information society. Our everyday world?s visual clichés are used playfully. The visual habits from the media are addressed and expanded upon. Through shifts and entanglements on these levels, Pelka arrives at a synthesis of an idiosyncratic visual language. In this game, it is the sensual qualities of a material reality of a painting that triumph.





The Slaughtering of Paradises
by Christoph Tannert (curator, director Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin)


The compelling power of inner pictures, whether in painterly or sculptural form, is a fascination. Indeed, it develops only when it pertains to an experimental game with imagination within a dialogue-driven constellation with its own dynamic. Through Florian Pelka?s paintings floats a blissful melancholy ? the deep palette of twilight that builds up and tops off not only between the works, but also between the works and their viewers.
What is first noticeable is that Pelka?s images as a whole aim into the essential, the formal and material-specific, but also into the intellectually and art-historically saturated ? and yet still remain afloat, unexplained.
It seems to me as if Pelka works like a novelist on commas and long dashes. This occurs first on a small scale, as if he is feeling out his immediate proximity, but then increasingly in concentric circles, in a spiraling movement up and down through the eras.

These days there?s a thick layer of dust on the more fundamental kind of dramatic existentialist feelings. Only in second-hand bookstores are absurdity, existence, desperation, alienation and such things modern, and if you believe the clairvoyants, everything in our society can be healed, paid for, or post-modernizable. Is this really true? Against Generation Golf?s unfounded exhilaration and the thin craftiness of aesthetic fast-food chefs, against being only medially well-versed, against surfing over global surfaces or the semantic drifting of all vestiges of existentialism into the cool pop-literati?s elegiac cigarette smoke rings, Pelka sets his view on the run of things ? things that he, in contrast to the counterfeiters of the future, sees as not so banal, and not so indifferently. Instead of flushing away overtones with an extroverted demand for affirmation, this painter knows to cryptically weave them into an enormous impact of color that possesses the power of introspection.

In painterly terms, what catches the eye is that the canvas consists of a conglomerate of liquid and solid, the smoothly painted and rabidly scratched. At times, surfaces are cracked and the paint application ragged, like dark don?t-touch-me thickets of emotion. These are again fed with a kind of flowing property one would not normally attribute to oils; something that also brings coincidence into play. There are presumptuous, possessive, dogmatic paintings ? this one here wants to clutch at nothing but rather lets emotions and thoughts run free. It is its earthbound power, materialized with all kinds of binders and additives, into whose mysterious safety zone one can flee into.

Here, we are dealing with images that are acutely aware of their time and whose statement wants to scrape with reality without neglecting the demand for simultaneous ?timelessness?. Trivial objects from our modern world, such as a camping chair, awning or shopping cart, are brought into the picture plane?s foreground. Added to this are trivializations of nature, which crops up, for example, as a palm-tree wallpaper pattern or a pedestrian zone?s planters, as the stylized corona of sunlight, or blossom-formed bowls that could also be stage furnishings from a TV show. The human appears, at most, as a stylized figure: as a cherub, a Playmobil figure, in the form of a scarecrow or in the pictogram for a woman. Quotations of cultural elements such as classical columns, balustrades and decorative garden fountains also provide dubious references to people.

These artifacts and alienating set pieces from nature and culture liberate themselves anarchically in the images? color fields, create spatially modeled scenarios, and pull the viewer into the depths of romantic panoramas ? without clear narration or the unity of a central perspective. But we aren?t standing here in a deconstructed reality in which the question of meaning could simply explode like these soap bubbles in front of the temple. Even visual fragments of our consumer society are emblematically glorified; not without irony but still related to a painterly-authenticated desire for reality. Inevitably the viewer is caught in the subjacent demand of explanation of the motifs. With Pelka, the concretely decisive refers to something beyond itself, to the symbolic. Within this vocabulary of abstract icons and pictograms, the painterly possibilities of representation are inexorably questioned. In a countermove, the viewer is exposed to the pull of the image?s narrative strengths via animal motifs, which often appear to be random but are mythologically loaded.

The artist connects to classical iconography with motifs of the swan, horse and ape. Here the swan bears the insignia of eros and potency in the classical era, also with the aspect of two-faced behavior. The horse betrays its wisdom not rationally but through the power of magic, transformation and divination. The ape, in pictorial tradition, had to indeed serve as the fool or even represent the painter. But this animal ? particularly through the most recent research ? primarily asks the question of the nature of intelligence and the use of symbols.

Of all primates, the human possesses by far the heaviest brain at an average of 1250g. In second place is the gorilla, at around 500g. Brain size alone, however, is not a reliable guide to the mental capacities of animals. Whether gorillas are aware of their own identities is still a controversy. Scientists have often presented animals with a mirror and observed their reactions, with contradictory results. Experiments in which gorillas have been presented with depictive pictograms or even completely abstract symbols, however, have yielded far clearer results. After a very brief training period, the animals are well capable of dealing reasonably with a representation of reality that is merely arbitrarily determined, and can satisfy their desires via this functional connection between symbol and object.

Here, it was exactly our ability to communicate with abstract symbols of written and image language that could designate our specifically human cognition in the best, most innocuous way. What kind of metalevel do we need to secure our own human identity? In post-modern times, the answer is increasingly difficult. As an exemplar of our ancestral connection, the ape appears in Pelka?s paintings as a counterpoint to the artificial plastic world with its decorative-garden effect. But because the ape is so close to us, it is, in its wildness, a counterpart that is also laden with our desires.
Whether we recognize ourselves in Pelka?s paintings, infused with icons, clichéd images and art-historical references ? or who slips into the tragicomic, vis-à-vis the ape ? is something observers must decide for themselves. Behavioral researchers are still speculating on the mental performance of humans as they observe images.

So Pelka?s paintings do not depict ensnarement in real life. They are, much more, a ?dreamcatcher?-like study of the breaches in human cognition. And we see how the artist works on the threshold between conscious and unconscious, how he operates with painterly surprise effects, with paradoxes and inversions, how compartments of form become autonomous in the process of creation. Stairs lead to nowhere, horizons shift and merge into surreal subsurfaces that destabilize the plot and allow only a precarious equilibrium.

Such images express nothing outside the self-situated and already extant, but rather feed directly off the artist?s desire for form. Such images are a settlement of existence, ex-sistere. They are what protrude into the unknown, into the things we didn?t do, that elude our control, that suffice in themselves: the unavailable in all its beauty and danger.
While the paint flows, the artist suffuses his theme, which he then drives into narrative seduction, into formal abstraction, into emblematic compression ? into a dynamic of transferal that eccentrically demands expression but is also open to a sense of morbidity and spectrality.

Like a spoken musical score, Pelka develops his paintings and pulls the viewer into an echo chamber that he no longer wants to leave ? or, caught in the trap of a deeply symbolic framework, is no longer able to leave. In intense Bengali colors, buried in the edges of our memory, a cycle of images is shown that is free from intramundane promises of pampering; it rather lays bare the lightness of being with extremely inventive calculation.

Pelka?s slaughtering of the paradises; his aiming at the wonderfully fictional via notch and bead, are two sides of a coin from which the paintings speak in silence, concentration and from a consciousness that segues into the real.