Qualities that I want to see brought together: delicacy and coarseness, color and vagueness, and, underlying them all, a base note of hysteria.
Gagosian is pleased to present Elevator Paintings: Trees by Albert Oehlen. Oehlen’s oeuvre is a testament to the innate freedom of the creative act. Unleashing this freedom through self-imposed constraints, Oehlen sets rules and boundaries in order to test the breaking point of painting itself. Through expressionist brushwork, Surrealist methodology, computer-generated lines, and self-conscious amateurism, he multiplies the potential of visual codes through processes of persistent accretion.
Of the two groups of works in Elevator Paintings: Trees—both being shown in New York for the first time—the Tree Paintings (Baumbilder) are permutations of an ongoing series that Oehlen began more than thirty years ago. For this iteration, he limited his palette to predominantly black and red. On bright white Dibond, black lines track the hand’s erratic ambulations, while red gradations are contained within geometric figures of a more digital register. The black, mobile lines take on a representative function, as if measuring their own relation to the red, still planes. Using a new technical approach, the Elevator Paintings are allover, polychromatic oil paintings in which Oehlen stages oppositions between clear contours and amorphous blurs. Over areas of clean, solid color, he applies voracious sprays, drips, and strokes in muddy greens and grays, as well as deep reds and flesh tones, further complicating his conflation of erasure and enhancement.
A fully illustrated catalogue, Elevator Paintings: Trees, with an essay by Andreas van Dühren, will accompany the exhibition.
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
Elevator Paintings: Trees
Albert Oehlen: Elevator Paintings: Trees is available for online reading from April 7 through June 5 as part of Artist Spotlight: Albert Oehlen. Published on the occasion of the artist’s 2017 exhibition Elevator Paintings: Trees at Gagosian, West 21st Street, New York, this catalogue brings together two groups of works. The Tree Paintings are permutations of an ongoing series that Oehlen began more than thirty years ago. For this iteration, he limited his palette to predominantly black and red. Using a new technical approach, the Elevator Paintings are allover polychromatic oil paintings in which the artist stages oppositions between clear contours and amorphous blurs. The book features an essay by Andreas van Dühren.
Albert Oehlen: Elevator Paintings: Trees (New York: Gagosian, 2017)
Extended through September 11, 2021
June 10–September 11, 2021
Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles