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.