Skarstedt announces an exhibition of German artist Albert Oehlen’s iconic fabric paintings, dating from 1992-1998, at their uptown gallery this fall. Instead of utilizing pristine canvas, Oehlen gained notoriety for his use of patterned fabric, complicating the predominant notion of the artist’s hand as central to modern painting. Featuring 15 works from this important series, Albert Oehlen: Fabric Paintings will be on view at Skarstedt (20 E. 79th Street) from November 4 through December 20, 2014.
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Oehlen’s Fabric Paintings abandoned the strict, formal compositions that he had utilized in his early work and instead focused on the process of painting. Oehlen’s work questions and plays with painting’s conventions.
In the late 80s, he began to challenge the expectations of conventional abstract art in works he deemed “post-non-figurative.” 1992 marked his fifth year of abstract painting. The fractured surfaces of his Fabric Paintings appear explosive, displaying his rigorous testing of the limits of painting. This series followed his Computer Paintings, shown at Skarstedt in 2009, in which he created abstractions with a mechanical tool.
Oehlen studied under Sigmar Polke at the Hochschule für bildende Künste, Hamburg in 1978, and was greatly influenced by his use of both patterned and wooden surfaces. Oehlen explains, “I couldn’t say what Polke’s influence was, but it’s his radicality. When you start to work as an artist everybody thinks about radicality, like how could you make the most shocking thing. And it’s not easy...Polke is somebody who had a role in that; in a way he made very radical things.” Oehlen was also influenced by de Kooning and the Abstract Expressionist generation, with their focus on painterly gesture and the artist’s hand.
Albert Oehlen has been a key figure in contemporary painting since the 1980s. While Baselitz, Richter, and Polke ruled the art world in the 70s and 80s, Oehlen emerged as the heir apparent in the 90s. Albert Oehlen is scheduled to have a retrospective at the New Museum, New York in 2015.
He has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Recent solo exhibitions of his work have been held in institutions including the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples, Italy and the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2009.
Skarstedt presented solo exhibitions of Oehlen’s work in 2009, 2005, 2003, and 2001. Oehlen has also participated in exhibitions at major institutions such as the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne, the Renaissance Society in Chicago, and the Kunsthalle in Basel. Oehlen's show at MoCA Miami in 2005 marked his first major solo exhibition at a museum in the United States. In 2009, Taschen published an oversized artist's monograph as part of its XL series that covers the entire scope of Oehlen's oeuvre. Albert Oehlen lives and works in Switzerland.