HOME AND GARDEN _ ALBERT OEHLEN’S PROLIFIC WORKINGS
The range of imagery and techniques that German artist Albert Oehlen has deployed throughout his career is staggering. His canvases capture haunting interiors, mutating self-portraits, archaic and digital landscapes, cryptic fragments of language, and abstractions enlivened by myriad chromatic and stylistic variations. Across all of his work, Oehlen displays an experimental and intuitive approach to painting infused with a refreshingly irrational sensibility and inspired by a variety of influences, including punk and Surrealism.
Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden pays tribute to the prolific work of the artist, presents a broad overview and also includes a personal selection of his early self-portraits – dubbed “post-non-objective” canvases. Also on view are his computer paintings and switch paintings from the 1990s, and more recent works fusing appropriated advertising signage and abstract marks.
Rather than following a chronological path through Oehlen’s prodigious thirty-year career, the exhibition explores contrasts between interior and exterior, nature and culture, and irony and sincerity, while also demonstrating the artist’s commitment to continually expanding the language of painting in surprising ways.
In the 1970s, Oehlen studied in Hamburg with Sigmar Polke and joined the circle of artists associated with the painter Jörg Immendorff. He came to prominence in Germany in the early 1980s alongside his friends and frequent collaborators Georg Herold and Martin Kippenberger, participating in a general return to painting taking place internationally at the time.
At the very beginning of his career, Oehlen set himself the task of exploring the language, structures, and experiences of painting. His work has since oscillated between figuration and abstraction, a dynamic that Oehlen constantly renews through the creation of rules and limitations that yield unpredictable results. Through this process, he has managed to reinvigorate seemingly exhausted genres of painting like portraiture, collage, and gestural abstraction. His work encapsulates both a skepticism of and faith in painting in the face of shifting critical positions and technological innovations.
HOME AND GARDEN ALBERT OEHLEN 10 June – 13 September THE NEW MUSEUM BOWERY, NEW YORK www.newmuseum.org