Serpentine Gallery, London
October 02, 2019 – February 02, 2020
“I am not interested in the idea of staging my work in a space specifically conceived for it. I think that art should adapt to the architecture or fight with it.” Albert Oehlen
The Serpentine is delighted to announce a major exhibition by Albert Oehlen. 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 fùr bildende Kùnste Hamburg in Germany from 1978 to 1981 and quickly rose to prominence, working with artists such as Martin Kippenberger, Georg Herold and Werner Bùttner, who sought to create works that defied categorisation and contradicted the existing artistic status quo. Straddling various debates surrounding the nature of painting, 0ehlen’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 is an installation that marks the beginning of 0ehlen’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 is a selection of paintings from the last two decades. A newly-configured soundtrack by the Swiss ensemble, Steamboat Switzerland, will play at intervals throughout the duration of the exhibition. The presence of music will extend through a live concert with performances by Steamboat Switzerland and experimental musician Lorenzo Senni on Wednesday 2 October, 7pm.
A guide to the exhibition with texts by Dawn Adès and André Butzer, and a new interview with Serpentine Artistic Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, is available as well as a mobile tour supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Albert Oehlen (b. 1954, Krefeld, Germany) is a painter based in Switzerland. He has exhibited internationally over the past four decades. Recent solo exhibitions include: Cons by the h/ater: Albert Oehlen, Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2018), Trance, ATshti Foundation, Beirut (2018), 0., Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana (2017), Albert Oehlen: Uoods near Oehle, The Cleveland Museum of Art (2016), Albert Oehlen: Recent Works, Guggenheim Bilbao (2016), Albert Oehlen: Home and Garden, The New Museum, New York, (2015), Museo di Capodimonte, Naples (2009), Realitéabstraite, Musée d’ Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2009) and / know whom you showed last summer, MOCA, Miami (2005). His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions worldwide, including at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2018), LACMA, Los Angeles (2014), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013) and the 55th Venice Biennale (2013).