Albert Oehlen

Selected works by Albert Oehlen

Albert Oehlen
Descending Hot Rays

2003

Oil on canvas

280 x 300 cm
Albert Oehlen’s paintings are neither beautiful nor seductive. Their self-consciously brutal surfaces seem to be corrupted from within, a perversion of the paintings they might have been.

In Descending Hot Rays, Albert Oehlen’s monotone canvas occupies a space between representation and abstraction, his forms and textures converging not to create an illusion, but a suggestion of invention.

Traditional painterly expression is infused with a steely reference to technology. His work offers a raw confrontation with the deficiencies of visual language. Albert Oehlen doesn’t use paint to convey meaning, but rather to explore the possibilities of the medium’s ‘function’.
Albert Oehlen
Black Rationality

1982

Latex on canvas

260x 190 cm
Black Rationality appropriates the tones and equestrian subject of historical painting and re-renders them as a punk-ethic effigy. The skeletons of the horses provide a Picasso-like motif. Seemingly two paintings in one, Black Rationality is a painting in conflict. Albert Oehlen sets up the flatness of an abstract expressionist ground; the figures are placed as a separate layer creating an illusion of perspective.

In an optical contention between surface and depth, Albert Oehlen exposes the limitations of both abstraction and representation to denounce and eulogise artistic tradition. In a literal depiction of a graveyard, Albert Oehlen presents painting as a hallowed myth, resonant beyond its expiration.
Albert Oehlen
Fibreglass Scroll

2004

Oil on canvas

270 x 220 cm
Albert Oehlen’s paintings humorously critique the hallowed respect and predominant values of traditional painting. In Fibreglass Scroll, his sensitively treated surface adopts the ephemeral radiance of Abstract Expressionism, alluding to an aura of mysticism and spirituality.

Devoid of colour, Albert Oehlen’s passionate brushwork becomes a hollow gesture; his black and white palette relegates the sincerity of painting to the annals of history. Stylised flat shapes float above Albert Oehlen’s painterly field, transforming his abstract composition to a Picasso-like animal, uncontrollably wild and dumb.
Albert Oehlen
Mirage of Steel

2003

Oil on canvas

280 x 340 cm
Albert Oehlen relishes the sensitivity of his medium in this celebration of painterly illusion: puddles and washes convey a refracted, dreamlike sensibility, while almost recognisable objects emerge and dissolve against the fluid ground. An explicit confession of deception, Albert Oehlen creates a convincing sense of space: a purely abstract fabrication boldly exposing its own construction.
Albert Oehlen
Peon

1996

Oil on canvas

191.5 x 191.5cm

Oehlen approaches painting with the uncontrollability of Tourette's syndrome. Chaotic and visually overloaded, Peon exudes an earnest conviction undermined by its own frantic expression. Elements of composition and style undulate with individual promise. Together, they are mutually rejective compounds violently clamouring for attention. Oehlen presents an image of breakdown: painting in its most agitated state, clawing for meaning and reason.

Albert Oehlen
Titankatze Mit Versuchstier (Titanium Cat With Laboratory Tested Animal)

1999

Oil on canvas

209 x 300 cm
Titanium Cat… reads like a page torn from a 1950’s exhibition catalogue: an exaggeratedly expressionistic painting entirely stripped of colour. Rendered defunct from the start, Albert Oehlen revels in its self-styled retardation. A decoded script of interrupted image and muted texture, takes its pleasure in contrast and surface.
Albert Oehlen
Untitled

1993

Oil on canvas

200 x 200cm
Oehlen describes his paintings as "post-non-representational". Through exploring and challenging the tropes and expectations of conventional abstraction, he strives to reconstitute a contemporary meaning for art as an independently articulate form. In works such as Untitled, Oehlen lavishes the picture plane with a clich’d exaggeration of painterly expression. Awkwardly encumbered, the sophistication of Untitled lies in its audacity, teetering on the razor edge between misfortune and masterpiece.
Albert Oehlen
Untitled

1989

Oil on Canvas

213.5 x 162.5cm
Albert Oehlen is a master of ironic wit and his paintings are elaborate strategies of provocation. In Untitled, Albert Oehlen subverts the authority of the avant-garde, creating an abstraction of dumbed-down abjection. His painting poses as a deceptive icon of aesthetic contemplation, punctuated with flirtatious eyes returning the viewer’s gaze.
Albert Oehlen
The Greeting

2003

Oil and Inkjet Print on Wood

208 x 280cm

(Collaboration with Jonathan Meese)
In a collaborative process made simple, Albert Oehlen provides the photographic material and both artists take turns painting around it. None of these works are immediately recognisable as Albert Oehlen or Meese, and that’s what makes them so good. Like a nuclear fusion, the two become one; an invincible super-artist refining the best qualities of both.

The Greeting is a ridiculous portrait of a lumpy gangly-armed housewife waving about a feather duster/penis, teetering on glamour model’s legs. They render her almost obscenely repulsive, but the sexual delusion of the male gaze is inevitable: the artists’ collage in a mirror to peek up her dress.
Albert Oehlen
Situation

2003

Oil and inkjet on wood

208 x 280cm

(Collaboration with Jonathan Meese)
Albert Oehlen and Jonathan Meese both make paintings about failure: of the function of art, politics and ideological systems. Working collaboratively, they explore these terrains in a hard-hitting and overtly humorous way. Situation creates a highly sexed still life: a mangled-faced female figure reduced to tits and a brain. Dealing with issues of visual ideals and sexual politics, their cyborg superwoman is less an archetype of perfection than the suggestive abstract sculptures on the plinth beside her.
Albert Oehlen
DJ Techno

2001

Mixed media on canvas

360 x 340cm
Oehlen re-contextualises painting as an expanded field. His most recent works are often produced through computer-generated design, incorporating collaged elements of photography and ink-jet printing as a means to explore new territories of representation and reception. DJ Techno combines pop emblems with Kandinsky-like expressionism to create an image with synaesthetic effect, alluding to sensations other than the visual.
Albert Oehlen
Piece

2003

Oil on Canvas

280 x 340cm
In Piece, Albert Oehlen combines aspects of figurative sexuality, mechanical distance and painterly abstraction. It’s a bastard hybrid of painting, incorporating smooth polished forms, heavy brushwork, and the implied photo-gloss of airbrush. The end result is more like a collage than a painting: a loud and exasperating argument in different tongues, promising never to be resolved for lack of a common idiom.
Albert Oehlen
Untitled

1989

Oil on canvas

200 x 200cm
Albert Oehlen describes his paintings as ‘post-non-representational’. Through exploring and challenging the tropes and expectations of conventional abstraction, he strives to reconstitute a contemporary meaning for art as an independently articulate form.

In works such as Untitled, Albert Oehlen lavishes the picture plane with a clichéd exaggeration of painterly expression. Awkwardly encumbered, the sophistication of Untitled lies in its audacity, teetering on the razor edge between misfortune and masterpiece.
Albert Oehlen
Storm

2004

Oil and Inkjet Print on Wood

208 x 280cm

(Collaboration with Jonathan Meese)
Describing their merger as a courtly affair of awkward politeness punctuated by artistic embarrassment, Albert Oehlen & Jonathan Meese unite forces as a way to expand both practice and dialogue. Like a conceptual game of tennis, an artwork is begun, and then bantered back and forth until it gains a life of its own. For the artists, it’s a way to accept loosing control over a work, explore the possibility of spontaneous action and reaction, and stamp out self-indulgent excess like a bad habit. The end results are both breathtaking and funny. Storm cheekily sets computer-generated porn as the hot-bod for a wild-armed monstress: a goddess of violent temper and salvation.
Albert Oehlen
Interior

1998

Oil on Canvas

238 x 238 cm
Albert Oehlen denies Interior both colour and pictorial subject. Instead, he offers the canvas as a rudimentary plan, a crude impression of possibility. By denying customary modes of critique, Albert Oehlen questions how the function and value of painting might be developed outside a historical hierarchy of aesthetics and form.

Other Resources

artfacts.net
Additional information on Albert Oehlen

zinkle.com
The rules of the game - artist Albert Oehlen - Interview ArtForum, by Diedrich Diederichsen

broadartfoundation.org
The broad art foundation

secession.at
Albert Oehlen, Secession 2004

kunsthalle.nuernberg.de
Kun sthalle Nurnberg. Albert Oehlen: Self-portrait at 50 million times the speed of light.

biografien.focus.msn.de
Das Gemuldewerk des deutschen Malers Albert Oehlen zuhlte in den 1980er Jahren zur "neue wilden Malerei".

elcultural.es
Territorios mestizos de Albert Oehlen

the-artists.org
Additional information.