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Albert Oehlen

Tramonto Spaventoso

April 22–June 5, 2021
Beverly Hills

Albert Oehlen’s studio, Ispaster, Spain, 2020 Artwork © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Esther Freund

Albert Oehlen’s studio, Ispaster, Spain, 2020

Artwork © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Esther Freund

About

Gagosian is pleased to present Tramonto Spaventoso, an exhibition by Albert Oehlen comprising the second part of his version of the Rothko Chapel in Houston as well as other new paintings. The first part of the project—consisting of four paintings that mirror the imposing scale of the Color Field compositions in the Chapel while opposing Rothko’s contemplativeness with their frenetic energy—was exhibited at the Serpentine Galleries, London, in 2019–20. Both parts make up the work Tramonto Spaventoso (2019–20).

Oehlen uses abstract, figurative, and collaged elements to disrupt the histories and conventions of modern painting. By adding improvised components, he unearths ever-new possibilities for the genre. While championing self-consciously amateurish “bad” painting, Oehlen continues to infuse expressive gesture with Surrealist attitude, openly disparaging the quest for reliable form and stable meaning.

In the large-scale canvases on view at the Beverly Hills gallery, Oehlen employs acrylic, spray paint, charcoal, and patterned fabric to interpret and transform John Graham’s painting Tramonto Spaventoso (Terrifying Sunset) (1940–49), a work by the Russian-born American modernist painter that he discovered in the 1990s and has been fascinated with ever since. Using Graham’s puzzle-like painting as a vehicle for repeated interpretation, Oehlen reconfigures elements in diverse and absurdist ways across multiple compositions. The exhibition, which goes by the same title, is therefore in part an homage to the earlier, lesser-known artist.

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Beverly Hills

456 North Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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Photo: Alejandro Ernesto/EPA/Shutterstock

Artist Spotlight

Albert Oehlen

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 in his studio, Ispaster, Spain, 2020. Artwork © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Esther Freund

Playlist

Albert Oehlen
Tramonto Spaventoso

Albert Oehlen has created a playlist of fourteen tracks on Spotify ranging in genres from free jazz to techno. Featuring musicians such as Steamboat Switzerland and Colin Stetson, the playlist shares the title of his upcoming exhibition at Gagosian, Beverly Hills, in which he interprets and transforms John Graham’s painting Tramonto Spaventoso (Terrifying Sunset) (1940–49). The artist discovered the work by the Russian-born American modernist painter in the 1990s and has been fascinated with it ever since.

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Albert Oehlen in his studio, Ispaster, Spain, 2020. Artwork © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Esther Freund