Gagosian is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Albert Oehlen, his first solo exhibition with the gallery in London at Grosvenor Hill.
For Oehlen, the practice of painting, with its inherent unpredictability, is a subject in itself. The guiding principles of his method are impulse and eclecticism, while his tools are fingers, brushes, collage, and computer. He often begins by imposing a set of rules or structural limitations—restricting his palette or deliberately working at a slow pace—while challenging himself to approach each painting differently. He treats abstraction as gesture or geometry, superimposed on or conflated with a figurative register, as in readymade posters covered in smudges and stains. Pictorial form is a trigger rather than an end in itself.
In a group of aluminum-panel paintings rendered in a simple, striking palette in various combinations of red, black, blue, and white, Oehlen creates treelike forms as vehicles for a methodical deflation of content. As in the work of Piet Mondrian and Georg Baselitz before him, the tree has been a recurring motif for Oehlen since the 1980s: in paintings such as Untitled (1989), the isolated, literally described trees undermine the common role of identifiable images through “bad” painting. In the new schematic forms—rendered in non-naturalistic contrasts of vivid red, black, white, and blue—trunks and branches become pure silhouettes that suggest the digital marks of design software, even though they have been meticulously hand-painted in oil paint. Flattening and overlapping surface, color, and content through cut-and-paste revisions of a fundamental biological form, Oehlen calls into question both nature and the most essential tools of painting.
A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Ann Goldstein will be published to accompany the exhibition. An artist talk between Albert Oehlen and Glenn Brown will take place on February 5, 2016, at Grosvenor Hill.
Cows by the Water
At the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, a career-spanning exhibition of paintings by Albert Oehlen, entitled Cows by the Water, went on view in the spring of 2018. Caroline Bourgeois, the curator of the exhibition, discusses how the show was organized around the artist’s relationship to music.
SEXE, RELIGION, POLITIQUE
October 13–December 21, 2018
Elevator Paintings: Trees
February 28–April 15, 2017
West 21st Street, New York
“Home & Garden” Annex
June 17–September 4, 2015
Park & 75, New York
June 6–July 18, 2014