It is Friday, right after Brexit and the atmosphere is exuberantly fatalistic–as it is most of these days. Philip is laughing because he doesn't want to cry. How could it come so far? What does it all mean? The world's end, or even worse? Are Philip Grözinger's paintings dystopias after all?
We are talking about Dark Star, John Carpenter's first movie. It was released in cinemas in 1974 and was very important for Philip. “At the moment, I am most interested in failure”, says Philip; failure of ideas, failure of visions, failure of live-lihoods. Stanley Kubrick–that was grand art. It was artistic reflection; it was hero movies for a time without heroes. John Carpenter–that was the philosophical joke to Kubrick's Space Odyssey. He picked up Plato's cave allegory and hunted it through the particle accelerator that he had rebuilt in his kids' room. The result: we are nonexistent; we have to destroy ourselves to come into being.
Dark Star is Descartes told by the means of a trash film: Boom, therefore I am, Philip who is pleasantly political and quick in his head, says. It is therefore the current form of #cogitoergosum, since violence is real and sometimes reality only comes into full effect through violence. The movie, Philip says, tells the story of 22nd century space rowdies explaining to a bomb (if I understood it right) that it is all by itself in the universe. From this, the bomb concludes that it has to explode so that the world–or: everything else–exists. What is realism in our days after all? Philip says that the odd thing is the fact that it hasn't changed in that many ways; and also its art has not. But the time that is all around the art has changed so much that the comic, the farce, the dystopia are closest to reality.
However, what does that mean for From Here to Now and Back again, which is the exhibition's title after all. A year ago, this might have sounded like a cool ref-erence to pop or like self-reference, children's favorite occupation in the nineties. Back then, they would have said „in storm of reference“, since Ernst Jünger was just a joke, too. In the form of the present, the past, which was supposed to be the future one-day, catches up with us again. It seems as if somehow everything comes back right now–everything that used to be funny is mad and evil today; everything that used to be easy is hostile today; everything that used to be a cita-tion from something that used to be is today's reality to a world that is unreal. If you want to know what is about to become you should better look back and dig in the garbage heap on which the wasted utopias rest. Radiating scrap, final stages, radioactive and dangerous. And so the paintings shine. They gleam out of the black; they are poisonous, toxic whereas they were supposed to be only funny, rich in allusions, and desperate.
Philip Grözinger is a painter of battle scenes who has been hurt himself. He sees the defeats of modernity, the insults of the future, the danger of the past, and forms a frieze from it. There is Yul Brynner from „Westworld“, another 70s movie: the theme park that has become the world in it virtually challenges terrorism. It goes back to Stanislaw Lem, says Philip, the good old times of Science-Fiction when every-body still believed in a future; which is why I'm interested in American pop: Kennedy, the landing on the moon–and then it radically topples, through Nixon, and the Vietnam War, and the crises.
Indeed, Philip paints in relation to movies. In Dark Star there is still a real world. In Matrix the real world is gone–the exceedance of the turn of the millennium. They simultaneously go back and stretch forward, those pictures. They live from this tension, they narrate about the moment when everything began or when everything came to an ending–and the question to the beholder is, if you will, what the difference might be.
There is one character that seems to pass through all of the paintings. It changes its shape and form; it is contained in the pink rubber man and in the rainbow coming from Yul Brynner's gun. It ensures that the age of the world is in the pic-tures, even when they tell about the future; but the future itself is, as already stated, prehistory. In a certain way, the paintings also reflect a journey that Philip has made; a journey that many of us have made, beginning in the nineties. It is an inversion: the phantasies which had been populating Grözinger's paint-ings back then were fantasies in a time of liberal free-handedness. Today, the authoritarian political systems establish their conflict areas with fantasies. Post-truth is what we call it. What does that mean for art? In another context Walter Benjamin, I believe, called it the aestheticisation of politics; it is fascism. So what did the artist of the nineties do? Back then, Philip says, everything was covered in cotton. Back then you could be wild and dangerous. What do these representa-tives do today, in the bourgeois world of wellbeing? Today, the others are wild, says Philip, and I am a romantic painter.