May 23 – July 26, 2013
«If you’re forced to change something, it gives an insecurity to the work that is very helpful. It makes you find out what you really need.» Albert Oehlen
For Albert Oehlen, the practice of drawing is a subject in itself. Considering the expressionistic requirements and conditions native to the medium, Oehlen reflects on the mark and its inverse, counteracting gestural intuitiveness. Using charcoal, Oehlen applies his lines vigorously, sometimes doubling on his own trace, smudging the medium, or completely erasing it in parts. Eventually a raw, elegant composition emerges, composed of seemingly informal gestures. The drawings are thus the opposite of pure sensation; while they seem to be impulsive and serendipitous they are in fact carefully constructed. It is in this formal paradox, or subterfuge of effect, where the depth of content resides. Characterized by the heterogeneous combination of method, palette, and genre, Oehlen’s paintings also explore the medium as subject.
His indifference to working in collage, abstraction, and figuration enables a unique dialogue amid styles. In a process reminiscent of the Surrealists’ «exquisite corpse» exercise, one method seems to spontaneously begets another, and a tattered piece of ephemera will become the foundation for a bold field of color. Computer-aided designs bring another dimension into the fold, juxtaposing the artist’s hand against the mark of the machine, and action and reaction weave into an amorphous visual language.