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  • Provenance

    Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris
    Private Collection

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Albert Oehlen, 23 October-18 July 2009

  • Catalogue Essay

    The German painter Albert Oehlen, alongside the late Martin Kippenberger, is associated with the Cologne art scene and the Junge Wilde (Wild Youth) group. Inspired by Abstract Expressionism, the movement emerged in the 80s punk era and brought together artists who turned to painting as their primary medium employing quick vibrant brushstrokes – a radical reaction to Minimalism and Conceptual Art. Throughout his oeuvre, Oehlen rejected established art trends of the time, drawing mainly from Surrealism, the primary source of reference in his work.

    Schritte, executed in 2006, juxtaposes a provocative cross-shaped pink blotch with what appears to be a composition of blue and yellow lines, while the outline of a figure whose legs can be vaguely discerned lies in the background. Elements of composition seem to have been washed away, like a sheet of blotting paper, smudged and stained. The colourful haze contrasts with the verticality of the background, possibly expressing life’s constant change and could be an interpretation of the title Schritte,
    meaning ‘action’ or ‘step’.

    Oehlen describes his work as neither abstract nor figurative but as “postnon- representational” (M. Clark, I will always champion bad painting, Arnolfini, 2006, p. 58). In Schritte, the different layers obscure each other until nothing specific is recognisable. By deconstructing itself, the painting becomes self-reflexive. His work also challenges painting as a medium within its past history. The image as such is incongruous. Oehlen’s work questions the discourse around abstract formalism and expressive figuration and blurs the line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ painting. Like other Abstract Expressionists, such as Willem de Kooning, Oehlen’s work could be deemed as regarding the canvas as a flayed body. The polymorphic elements in his paintings collide with the straight brushstrokes, depicting the interplay of limitation and liberation.

    “I worked hard on these stains in the middle of the painting. The cloud of muddy colours takes most of the working time, because I love that: playing with the speed of the whole procedure. Slow it down extremely at a certain point, then start a quick collage-like procedure of putting things together, then suddenly concentrate on colours. With a soft brush I was moving the paint for days from one side to the other.”
    (The artist, in a press release from Thomas Dane Gallery, London, 2008)



oil on canvas
180 x 150 cm (70 7/8 x 59 in)
Signed and dated 'A. Oehlen 2006' on the reverse.

£200,000 - 300,000 

sold for £241,250

Contemporary Art Evening

28 June 2012