Painting

In the head

 Albert Oehlen Geschmeidig 1999

“Oehlen offers an insight into why digital pictorial mediums can be exciting—and certainly are triumphant in global visual culture—but still fail to sustain intellectual interest or to nourish the soul. They are all in the head. Oehlen attacks with paint the shallow clamor of transferred digital pixelation and, in some works, glued-on advertising posters. He wrestles their visual quiddities—how they look, irrespective of what they represent—down into the body and makes them groan.” Peter Scheldahl, New Yorker, 2015.

Albert Oehlen’s has everything an abstract painter could want – materiality, process and Postmodern critique. It’s a style of painting and visual thinking inherited from Sigmar Polke. And over the years he’s pushed this painting and critique further from the landscape material abstraction into billboard conceptual abstraction. His is a career of constant experimentation and change done in an effort to find the limits and meanings of painting and abstraction in an era overrun by these things. 

“In 1991 Oehlen began making drawings on the computer without knowing too much about the technical details. The resulting images were printed out, silkscreened onto large canvases, and worked on some more with paint. The computer-drawn lines became monumental, raising questions around the nature of materiality. While the digital offers no resistance and can be modified at will, paint insists on a life of its own: its sheen varies, depending on the way the light falls; it drips or is too matte or thick in all the wrong places. There is a certain arrogance to its materiality – a quality foreign to the digital, which is so endlessly compliant.” Daniel Bauman, Spike Magazine, 2015

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