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.