Albert Oehlen - I Will Always Champion Good Painting
7 July - 3 September 2006
Rebellious, discordant and allusive, Albert Oehlen's paintings are driven by an explosive collision of line, colour and form. Behind their often chaotic appearance lies an intense investigation of the limits of painting. Organised with Arnolfini, Bristol, this exhibition offers the first in-depth opportunity to explore Oehlen's work in the UK.
Born in Krefeld, Germany, in 1954, Oehlen studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg and emerged in the early 1980s alongside artists such as Martin Kippenberger, with whom he often collaborated. Influenced by other German painters such as Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter, Oehlen focuses on the process of painting itself, making visible its fundamental elements rather than exploring painting as autobiographical expression. 'No magic, no science, no excuses', Oehlen has said, 'I want an art where you see how it's made, not what the artist means but the traces of production.'
Eclectic and hugely prolific, Oehlen's practice ranges from large abstract canvases more than 2 metres wide to computer-generated works, collages and posters. They reveal his exploration of colour and form, investigations of space and depth, and references to art history and popular culture. Oehlen often begins his works by creating collages on canvas, forming an initial structure that is gradually erased in layers of overlapping paint. Figures, interiors or elements of landscape are occasionally suggested, but are partly obscured by more abstract forms. No individual element is given prominence or provides a focal point for his compositions. Instead, our eyes are drawn in a multitude of directions, over the eventful surface of each canvas.
The Whitechapel's exhibition, I Will Always Champion Good Painting, brings together important colour, grey and collage paintings from the late 1980s to today. The exhibition continues at Arnolfini in Bristol with I Will Always Champion Bad Painting, 30 September - 26 November 2006, which focuses on Oehlen's computer-generated paintings, posters and collage works.
The exhibition is organised with the support of Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin and Thomas Dane Gallery, London