In his sculptures, paintings and installations Marc Bijl examines social structures, political events and our perception of social norms in public spaces. Bijl’s most recent work consists of abstract paintings on aluminum where he is using layers of powder coated paint applied in complex industrial processes. Within the Stuttgart gallery rooms, the title of the exhibition After Dark runs like a red thread through Marc Bijl’s colour and light installations: it is used in a series of 80’s inspired retromotivic aluminum works, refers repeatedly to the music legend Prince, and After Dark computer generated concepts. The artist takes the viewer right back to the 80’s, by flooding the gallery rooms in green, magenta and blue light show effects, giving the viewer the impression that he/she is beamed directly into Prince’s own private club After Dark. In one of his powder coated aluminum compositions titled After Dark, Bijl refers to one of the last photos taken of Prince in the After Dark Club. He shows the legendary 80’s musician barely recognizeable in blurred, shadowy distorted outlines – a bit like a "glitch". In computer games a "glitch" is a small error when playing the game, which only works to the advantage of the player who is in fact aware of the "glitch". After Dark was also the name of one of the first comercially developped screen saver series developed by Apple for Macintosh. In the 80’s, After Dark were the most famous screen savers and used everywhere.
Bijl beams us into another time-space continuum, into a kind of end-of-time romance characteristic of the 80’s. Over the heads of the visitors, an enormous icosahedron floats in the thick fog clouding the room illuminated like a neon sculpture. Everything reminds you of Back to the Future, of the first generation of computer games, neon colours, the Cold War and the associated dread of those end-of-time scenarios spreading via the threats of nuclear confrontations between the Soviet Union and the USA. Bijl succeeds through colour explosive light installations to construct an exhibition space which conjures up that anxiety, that threatening atmosphere and that feeling of imminent danger of the Cold War period. Now, as then, we ask ourselves how long will the world as we know it still exist?
Marc Bijl, After Dark, 2016. Powdercoating on aluminium, 150 x 100 cm.Publication date: 6 Feb '24