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.
Albert Oehlen: Terrifying Sunset
The artist speaks with Mark Godfrey about his new paintings, touching on the works’ relationship to John Graham, the Rothko Chapel, and Leigh Bowery.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2021
The Summer 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Carrie Mae Weems’s The Louvre (2006) on its cover.
Albert Oehlen and Mark Godfrey
Albert Oehlen speaks to Mark Godfrey about a recent group of abstract paintings, “academic” art, reversing habits, and questioning rules.
Albert Oehlen: In the Studio
This film by Albert Oehlen, with music by Tim Berresheim, takes us inside the artist’s studio in Switzerland as he works on a new painting.
Albert Oehlen and Hans Ulrich Obrist
Hans Ulrich Obrist interviews the artist on the occasion of his recent exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries, London.
Albert Oehlen: Maximum Chance Maximum Control
The artist met with art historian Christian Malycha to discuss his newest paintings.
April 7–13, 2021
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 is perhaps best known for his embrace of “bad” painting. Alongside his many rules, he allows a certain awkwardness 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: Alejandro Ernesto/EPA/Shutterstock
Albert Oehlen and Glenn Brown
In this video, Albert Oehlen and Glenn Brown have a conversation on the occasion of Oehlen’s 2016 exhibition at Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London. Filmed inside the gallery, the pair discuss Oehlen’s thought process behind the new aluminum-panel paintings—rendered in various combinations of red, black, blue, and white—in which Oehlen uses treelike forms as vehicles for a methodical deflation of content.
Still from “Albert Oehlen and Glenn Brown”
Extended through September 11, 2021
June 10–September 11, 2021
Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
Extended through November 9, 2019
September 12–November 9, 2019