Philipp Fürhofer: Phantom Islands
12 May to 5 November 2023
Collection of Contemporary Art
Press Preview: Friday, 12 May 2023, 9.30 am

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. From 12 May to 5 November 2023 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.

Curator: Svenja Grosser (Deputy Head of the Collection of Contemporary Art, Städel Museum)

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