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“Big paintings by me with small paintings by others”

Albert Oehlen - “Big paintings by me with small paintings by others”
The artist as collector: Albert Oehlen's own artworks nail-to-nail with masterpieces from his personal collection.
The dual role of artist-collector is always an exciting coupling, and when the artist-collector is as elusive and discreet as Albert Oehlen, it is downright seductive. Albert Oehlen "big paintings by me with small paintings by others"—published on the occasion of the homonymous exhibition at the MASI Lugano in 2021—witnesses Oehlen as an exhibited artist, a curator, and a collector. For the first time in such an extensive form, many of his own artworks are nail-to-nail with masterpieces from his collection. He devised a precise exhibition path in close collaboration with Francesca Benini and Christian Dominguez, and the catalogue reflects this precious dialogue. The connections between Oehlen's and the artists in his collection speak for themselves; readers will readily spot the many and various alignments in terms of their ideas about art and the big questions they seek to answer.
Works by Richard Artschwager, Hans Bellmer, Peter Brüning, Gernot Bubenik, Gino de Dominicis, Willem de Kooning, Michaela Eichwald, Bruno Goller, John Graham, Duane Hanson, Jever, Hans Josephsohn, Martha Jungwirth, Mike Kelley, Konrad Klapheck, Ferdinand Kriwet, Eugène Leroy, Richard Lindner, Paul McCarthy, Birgit Megerle, Malcolm Morley, Albert Oehlen, Markus Oehlen, Ed Paschke, Joyce Pensato, Richard Phillips, Christina Ramberg, Daniel Richter, Matthias Schaufler, Julian Schnabel, Hans Schweizer, Rebecca Warren, Franz West, Karl Wirsum.
Albert Oehlen's (born 1954 in Krefeld, Germany) oeuvre is a testament to the innate freedom of the creative act. Through expressionist brushwork, surrealist methodology, and self-conscious amateurism he engages with the history of abstract painting, pushing the basic components of abstraction to new extremes.
Oehlen studied at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg in Germany from 1978 to 1981 and quickly rose to prominence in the Berlin and Cologne art scenes. He came to be associated with the Junge Wildeartists, including Martin Kippenberger and Werner Büttner, who sought to create work that defied categorization and refuted the artistic status quo. Straddling various debates surrounding the nature of painting, Oehlen's work deconstructed the medium to its constituent elements—color, gesture, motion, and time—and evolved out of constraints he applied to his artistic process. This line of investigation, which Oehlen has continued to pursue in the decades since has resulted in striking variations between—from works that combine abstract and figurative styles, created in response to the Neo-Expressionism of the 1980s, to paintings comprising of grids of colored squares.
As Oehlen began to incorporate new technologies into his work—inkjet printers, computer-aided design programs, and references to the pixelated lines of computer screens—the parameters that he set for himself shifted, offering new obstacles and challenges. Some of these self-imposed "rules" include limiting his palette and combining perambulating black lines with carefully blended gradations (in the Baumbilder [Tree Paintings]), and utilizing erasure and layering to juxtapose bright and muddy colors, as in the Elevator Paintings, a single work in nine parts from 2016. In the late 1990s, Oehlen spray-painted over collaged imagery that had been transferred to canvas with large, industrial printers typically used to create billboards.
Oehlen is perhaps best known for his embrace of "bad" painting. Alongside his many rules, he allows a certain awkwardness or ugliness to enter his work, introducing unsettling gestures, crudely drawn figures, visceral smears of artificial pigments, bold hues, and flesh tones. In this way, he attests to the infinite combinations of form made possible through painting, and shows that these combinations can be manipulated at the artist's will to produce novel perceptual challenges for the viewer.

See also Wendy Gondeln (Albert Oehlen).
Edited by Francesca Benini.
Texts by Francesca Benini, Tobias Bezzola, Christian Dominguez.
published in November 2021
bilingual edition (English / Italian)
20 x 28,5 cm (hardcover)
120 pages (ill.)
ISBN : 978-88-6749-461-3
EAN : 9788867494613
in stock

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