Albert Oehlen

Serpentine Gallery

2 Oct 2019 to 12 Jan 2020

Albert Oehlen

Admission Free

The Serpentine is delighted to announce a major exhibition by Albert Oehlen, which opens on 2 October 2019.

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Albert Oehlen (b. 1954, Krefeld, Germany) is one of the most innovative and significant artists working today. He has been a key figure in contemporary art since the 1980s and the diversity of his painting is a testament to the intrinsic freedom that remains at the heart of the medium. Through expressionist brushwork, surrealist gestures and deliberate amateurism, he engages with the history of painting, pushing its essential components to bold new extremes.

Oehlen studied at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg in Germany from 1978 to 1981 and quickly rose to prominence, working with artists such as Martin Kippenberger, Georg Herold and Werner Büttner, who sought to create works that defied categorisation and contradicted the existing artistic status quo. Straddling various debates surrounding the nature of painting, Oehlen’s work deconstructs the medium to its essential elements: colour, gesture, motion, and time. This line of investigation, which Oehlen has continued to pursue in the decades since, has resulted in striking variations between works that combine abstract and figurative styles using a range of techniques, from oil painting to spray paint, digital printing and collage. 

At the centre of the Serpentine Gallery will be an installation that marks the beginning of Oehlen’s process of interpreting the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas. Four new paintings – the same scale and size as the four horizontal canvases found in the Chapel – have been made specifically for this exhibition. Alongside this central installation will be a selection of paintings from the last two decades. A newly-configured soundtrack, will play at intervals through the duration of the exhibition.

The show will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with texts by Dawn Adès and André Butzer and a new interview with Serpentine Artistic Director Hans Ulrich Obrist.

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Albert Oehlen, Check Up, 1994

Albert Oehlen

Check Up, 1994

Photo: Archive Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin | Paris

Albert Oehlen, Arrogantes Genie am Steuer, 1999

Albert Oehlen

Arrogantes Genie am Steuer, 1999

Photo: Jörg + Philipp von Bruchhausen

Albert Oehlen, Ohne Titel, 1993

Albert Oehlen

Ohne Titel, 1993

Photo: Archive Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin | Paris

Albert Oehlen, Ohne Titel (Schellen), 1988

Albert Oehlen

Ohne Titel (Schellen), 1988

Photo: Archive Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin | Paris

Albert Oehlen, Selbstportrait mit Pferd, 1985

Albert Oehlen, Selbstportrait mit Pferd, 1985

Albert Oehlen

Selbstportrait mit Pferd, 1985

Photo: Archive Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin | Paris

Albert Oehlen, Ohne Titel, 1989

Albert Oehlen

Ohne Titel, 1989

Photo: Archive Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin | Paris