Qualities that I want to see brought together: delicacy and coarseness, color and vagueness, and, underlying them all, a base note of hysteria.
Albert Oehlen’s oeuvre is a testament to the innate freedom of the creative act. Through expressionist brushwork, surrealist methodology, and self-conscious amateurism he engages with the history of abstract painting, pushing the basic components of abstraction to new extremes.
Oehlen graduated from the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg in 1978 and quickly rose to prominence in the Berlin and Cologne art scenes. He came to be associated with the Junge Wilde artists, including Martin Kippenberger and Werner Büttner, who sought to create work that defied categorization and refuted the artistic status quo. Straddling various debates surrounding the nature of painting, Oehlen’s work deconstructed the medium to its constituent elements—color, gesture, motion, and time—and evolved out of constraints he applied to his artistic process. This line of investigation, which Oehlen has continued to pursue in the decades since has resulted in striking variations between—from works that combine abstract and figurative styles, created in response to the Neo-Expressionism of the 1980s, to paintings comprising of grids of colored squares.
As Oehlen began to incorporate new technologies into his work—inkjet printers, computer-aided design programs, and references to the pixelated lines of computer screens—the parameters that he set for himself shifted, offering new obstacles and challenges. Some of these self-imposed “rules” include limiting his palette and combining perambulating black lines with carefully blended gradations (in the Baumbilder [Tree Paintings]), and utilizing erasure and layering to juxtapose bright and muddy colors, as in the Elevator Paintings, a single work in nine parts from 2016. In the late 1990s, Oehlen spray-painted over collaged imagery that had been transferred to canvas with large, industrial printers typically used to create billboards.
Oehlen is perhaps best known for his embrace of “bad” painting. Alongside his many rules, he allows a certain awkwardness or ugliness to enter his work, introducing unsettling gestures, crudely drawn figures, visceral smears of artificial pigments, bold hues, and flesh tones. In this way, he attests to the infinite combinations of form made possible through painting, and shows that these combinations can be manipulated at the artist’s will to produce novel perceptual challenges for the viewer.
Photo: Katherine McMahon
SEXE, RELIGION, POLITIQUE
October 13–December 21, 2018
Elevator Paintings: Trees
February 28–April 15, 2017
West 21st Street, New York
February 5–March 24, 2016
Grosvenor Hill, London
“Home & Garden” Annex
June 17–September 4, 2015
Park & 75, New York
June 6–July 18, 2014
May 23–July 26, 2013
June 8–July 27, 2012
March 3–April 7, 2012
980 Madison Avenue, New York
Fairs, Events & Announcements
Art Basel Hong Kong
March 29–31, 2018, booth ICI8
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong. To view highlights from the booth in advance of the fair visit www.artsy.com. Our presentation will include works by Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, Glenn Brown, Alexander Calder, John Currin, Willem de Kooning, Edmund De Waal, Jean Dubuffet, Urs Fischer, Lucio Fontana, Walton Ford, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jia Aili, Anish Kapoor, Yves Klein, Karen Kneffel, Jeff Koons, Harmony Korine, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Mark Tansey, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zeng Fanzhi. Tickets are available at www.artbasel.com.
Zeng Fanzhi, 8, 2018 © Zeng Fanzhi 2018
February 7–11, 2018, booth F201
Centro Citibanamex, Mexico City
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Zona Maco México Arte Contemporáneo 2018, presenting works by Chris Burden, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, Frank Gehry, Piero Golia, Douglas Gordon, Katharina Grosse, Adam McEwen, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Giuseppe Penone, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Rudolf Stingel, Robert Therrien, Blair Thurman, Adriana Varejão, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann. If you wish to receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact us at email@example.com. Tickets are available at www.zsonamaco.com.
John Chamberlain, Untitled, 1993 © 2018 Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
February 1–4, 2018, booth B19
Gagosian is pleased to participate in artgenève 2018, presenting a selection of works by Richard Artschwager, Georg Baselitz, John Currin, Dadamaino, Edmund de Waal, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Peter Lindbergh, Vera Lutter, Man Ray, Sally Mann, Brice Marden, Olivier Mosset, Albert Oehlen, Steven Parrino, Giuseppe Penone, Sigmar Polke, Ed Ruscha, Blair Thurman, Tatiana Trouvé, Tom Wesselmann, Franz West, Rachel Whiteread, and others. If you wish to receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are available at www.artgeneve.ch.
Giuseppe Penone, Pelle di foglie—5 foglie a terra, 2011 © Giuseppe Penone
Cows by the Water
Through January 6, 2019
Palazzo Grassi, Venice
Presenting eighty-five works created between the 1980s and today, Cows
by the Water will reveal a syncopated rhythm between various genres and periods in Oehlen’s complex oeuvre. Music will emerge as metaphor of Oehlen’s working methods, where contamination and rhythm, improvisation and repetition, density
and harmony become pictorial gestures.
Installation view, Cows by the Water: Albert Oehlen, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, April 8, 2018–January 6, 2019. Artwork © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Matteo De Fina © Palazzo Grassi
October 22, 2018
Aïshti Foundation, Lebanon
Trance is a solo exhibition by Albert Oehlen. Oehlen is also curating a group show drawn from both the Aïshti Foundation’s collection and from his personal collection.
Albert Oehlen and Peppi Bottrop
March 1–August 12, 2018
Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
Line Packers” features Albert Oehlen’s computer paintings, a series that the artist began in the early 1990s, alongside Peppi Bottrop’s line-drawing paintings, which respond to the architecture of the foundation’s Lounge Gallery.
Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 1992/2008 © Albert Oehlen. Photo by Simon Vogel
September 16–October 31, 2017
Eight exhibition venues in Beijing, China
Deutschland 8 is the continuation of the intercultural dialogue between China and Germany that successfully started with the exhibition China 8 in 2015. New works by German artists will be on view at eight different museums throughout Beijing. The works selected will highlight the historical context and developments in German art from 1945 to the present day. Work by Georg Baselitz, Katharina Grosse, Andreas Gursky, Anselm Kiefer, Albert Oehlen, and Thomas Ruff is included.
Anselm Kiefer, The Door, 1973 © Anselm Kiefer