Albert Oehlen - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galleria Alfonso Artiaco, Naples

  • Exhibited

    Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts; Salamanca, Domus Artium 2002 and Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Albert Oehlen: Paintings/Pinturas 1980-2004 Self-Portrait at 50 Million Times the Speed of Light, June 18, 2004 – June 26, 2005, p. 117 (illustrated in color)

  • Literature

    “La Escatología de Oehlen,” Blanco y Negro Cultural, December 11, 2004, p. 26 (discussed); R. Beil, ed., Albert Oehlen: Paintings/Pinturas 1980-2004 Self-Portrait at 50 Million Times the Speed of Light, Zurich, 2004, p. 117 (illustrated in color)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Albert Oehlen’s 2001 piece, Panza de Burro, (translated into English as The Donkey’s Paunch), refers in its title to the meteorological layering of clouds
    above both the forests of the Canary Islands and western South America. We find this general concept in the piece, where nebulous layers of paint seem to conceal a painting of clarity behind them. This obscurity is in keeping with Oehlen’s general aesthetic, or rather, anti-aesthetic, in which he bucks all compositional technique in favor of populating a canvas with stratum upon stratum of clashing oil and acrylic. Despite his intentional compositional defiance, his completed canvases still exhibit technical excellence and
    something “culturally witty and formally rigorous” (R. Smith, The New York Times, May 21, 2009).

    In many ways, the canvas itself defies formulaic description, as the saturated hues of blue and lightning strikes of orange and red seem dominated by smears of tan and brown. In turn, these layers of obscurity are subject to stamps and lines of varying blacks and whites, frantically running over the layers of clouds beneath them. “I’m not interested in the autonomy of the artist or of his signature style. My concern, my project, is to produce an autonomy of the painting, so that each work no longer needs that legitimizing framework” (Oehlen quoted in D. Diedrichsen, in “The Rules of the Game — Artist Albert Oehlen — Interview”, in ArtForum, November 1994). In Panza de Burro, Oehlen achieves his goal of giving the painting, rather than the painter, autonomy. The alternating obscurity and clarity, formed by the clouds above the forest, hint at worlds above and beneath, each straining to be seen.

  • Artist Biography

    Albert Oehlen

    Albert Oehlen is a German contemporary artist whose work explores the capabilities and failures of painting in the age of postmodernism. His deconstructed artworks reduce painting to a discordant mixture of its constituent elements—color, gesture, motion, and duration—and celebrate the resulting disharmony as an artistic expedition to the frontiers of the abilities of painting. Oehlen began his career in the art scenes of Cologne and Berlin, becoming associated with the Junge Wilde artists who sought to create works that defied classification and disrupted the artistic status quo. He has carried this sense of rebelliousness into his mature career with works that incorporate digital technologies as well as more traditional media. Oehlen’s paintings are marked by inherent, gleeful contradictions, always wielded with a cavalier confidence in the artist’s prowess – his uncooperative fusions of abstraction and figuration, for example, expose the inefficiencies of each art mode and explore the function of painting as much as its meaning.

    Oehlen has attracted critical praise befitting the innovative nature of his work, and he has been the subject of several major exhibitions at institutions such as the Mumok, Vienna and the New Museum, New York. He lives and works between Bühler, Switzerland.

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Panza de Burro

Oil and acrylic on canvas.
86 1/2 x 146 1/2 in. (219.7 x 372.1 cm.)
Signed, titled and dated “A. Oehlen 01 Panza de burro” on the reverse.

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $506,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 May 2011
New York