Albert Oehlen (1954, Krefeld, Germany). Lives and works in Bühlen, Switzerland.
Albert Oehlen is an influential contemporary painter working in an eclectic variety of techniques and imagery. Сycling ceaselessly between abstraction and realism, artist creates a contemporary interpretation of traditional painting models, where the medium and techniques join together to turn to a new independent genre.
From 1978 to 1981, Oehlen attended the University of Fine Arts Hamburg in Germany where he studied art under Sigmar Polke. During the early stages of his career, Oehlen’s artistic interests and associations included music and painting and reflected the prevailing Neo-Expressionist aesthetic of the time. Together with Werner Büttner in 1976, he founded the ‘Liga zur Bekämpfung des widersprüchlichen Verhaltens’ (League Against Contradictory Behavior) which expressed its artistic and political views through anarchist happenings.
Together with Martin Kippenberger and Werner Büttner, he soon came to be associated with the Junge Wilde (Neue Wilde) movement created as opposed to minimalism and conceptual art. The artist was inspired by the ‘Bad painting’ style of Jörg Immendorff and the Neo-Expressionism of Georg Baselitz. In his series of ‘Malerei über Malerei’ (Painting by Painting) works, Oehlen first combined abstract and figurative elements. Towards the end of the decade he had dedicated himself completely to the “post-abstract” painting, whose concept is expressed in the deconstruction of abstract art.
Oehlen began to incorporate new technologies into his work—inkjet printers, computer-aided design programs and references to the pixelated lines of computer screens. Some of his self-imposed “rules” include limiting his palette and combining perambulating black lines with blended gradations (Tree Paintings), and utilizing erasure and layering to juxtapose bright and muddy colors (Elevator Paintings). Through expressionist brushwork and surrealist methodology he engages with the history of abstract painting, pushing the basic components of abstraction to new extremes.
Recent major exhibitions by Albert Oehlen took place in such institutions as Serpentine Gallery, London (2020), Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2018), Aïshti Foundation, Beirut (2018), Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba (2017), The Cleveland Museum of Art (2016), Guggenheim Bilbao (2016), The New Museum, New York, (2015), Museo di Capodimonte, Naples (2009), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2009) and MOCA, Miami (2005).
His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions worldwide, including at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2018), LACMA, Los Angeles (2014), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013) and the 55th Venice Biennale (2013).