Palm leaves, sunsets, forests—at the interface between installation and painting, tropical landscapes by the artist Philipp Fürhofer radiate towards the viewer in light boxes and paintings. However, the romanticism of nature is deceptive: Beneath layers of paint bursts, questions regarding the existential, reciprocal influence of humans and nature, of capitalist civilisation, and the constant destruction of our living environment are revealed.
Illusion and the questioning of reality are key motifs in the oeuvre of artist Philipp Fürhofer (born 1982). At the interface between installation and painting, his works depict complex pictorial worlds. The Städel Museum is presenting a solo exhibition with altogether 16 pieces by Fürhofer, including a site-specific work.
In the rooms devoted to the museum’s contemporary art collection, the artist will stage a mystical jungle landscape in which nothing is as it seems to be. Sunsets and tropical forests shine out at the viewer from paintings and light boxes, their slowly pulsating light creating an enigmatic atmosphere. With a work conceived especially for the show, he moreover reacts to the architecture of the place: a curtain nearly six metres high echoes motifs from the seemingly paradisiacal landscapes around it. The visitors are invited to step through the curtain and take a look at what is behind.
Fürhofer’s exhibition title “Phantom Islands” is an allusion to once-mapped islands whose existence was later refuted. The romanticism of Fürhofer’s forests and beaches prove similarly deceptive. Scratched-open layers of paint reveal the question as to the existential mutual influence between human being and nature, between the capitalist civilization and its ongoing destruction of its own habitat. With pop-culture references, the artist calls attention to humankind’s constantly growing desire to control itself and its immediate surroundings in times of upheaval and uncertainty.
Svenja Grosser (Deputy Head of Contemporary Art, Städel Museum)
Maja Lisewski (Assistant curator, Collection of Contemporary Art, Städel Museum)
About Philipp Fürhofer
Philipp Fürhofer (born in Augsburg in 1982) lives and works in Berlin. From 2002 to 2008, he studied at the Universität der Künste / College of Fine Arts in Berlin, in his final year as a master pupil of Hans-Jürgen Diehl in painting. His oeuvre spans the mediums of painting, installation and object art. Solo presentations have taken place at, for example, the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt in 2017 and the Augsburg Kunstverein in 2016, group exhibitions featuring his work at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in 2022, the Künstlerhaus Dortmund in 2016 and elsewhere. Fürhofer’s encounter with the theatre director Hans Neuenfels during his studies was seminal for his stage sets in the world’s most prestigious opera houses, works which have won him numerous international awards. He has moreover carried out designs for exhibitions such as “Du bist Faust” (Kunsthalle München 2018) and the retrospective “Thierry Mugler Couturissime” (Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal and Kunsthal Rotterdam 2019, Kunsthalle München 2020).
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