Gagosian is pleased to present Albert Oehlen’s Tramonto Spaventoso (2019–20). This is the first time that Oehlen’s provocative and personal response to the Rothko Chapel in Houston is being exhibited in its entirety; the first part was shown at the Serpentine Galleries, London, in 2019–20, the second at Gagosian Beverly Hills earlier this year. The paintings are installed in a custom-built octagonal structure in the Grand Theater Gallery of the Marciano Art Foundation, reflecting the layout of the original chapel.
Oehlen uses abstract, figurative, and collaged elements—often applying self-imposed strategic constraints—to disrupt the histories and conventions of modern painting. While championing self-consciously “bad” painting characterized by crude drawing and jarring coloration, he infuses expressive gesture with Surrealist attitude, openly disparaging the quest for reliable form and stable meaning.
In the eight large-scale paintings that constitute the Tramonto Spaventoso project, Oehlen variously interprets and dramatically transforms John Graham’s Tramonto Spaventoso (Terrifying Sunset, 1940–49), a painting by the Russian-born American modernist that Oehlen discovered in the 1990s and has been fascinated with ever since.
In a startling act of creative homage, Oehlen interprets Graham’s puzzle-like image in myriad ways across multiple compositions. Using acrylic, spray paint, charcoal, and patterned fabric on canvas, he reworks various motifs from the original, including a mermaid and a man sporting a monocle and a Daliesque moustache. Combining graphic brushstrokes, deliberate “painterly” drips, and textural obfuscations, he tests the limits of coherence and legibility, challenging the viewer with unexpected aesthetic and thematic shifts.
The work is illustrated in the catalogue recently published on the occasion of the Beverly Hills exhibition.
Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
4357 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, ca 90010
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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.
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.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
Extended through November 9, 2019
September 12–November 9, 2019