Albert Oehlen, Untitled (Baum 84), 2016, oil on dibond, 98 7/16 × 98 7/16 inches (250 × 250 cm) © Albert Oehlen. Photo by Stefan Rohner.
For Albert Oehlen, the practice of painting and its inherent unpredictability is a subject in itself. The guiding principles of his method are impulse and eclecticism, while his tools are fingers, brushes, collage, and computer. He often begins by imposing a set of rules or structural limitations—restricting his palette or deliberately working at a slow pace—while challenging himself to approach each painting differently. He treats abstraction as either gesture or geometry, superimposed, in combination, or conflated with a figurative register, as in readymade posters covered in smudges and stains. Pictorial form is a trigger rather than an end in itself.
Albert Oehlen was born in 1954 in Krefeld, Germany. He graduated in 1981 from Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg. From 2000 to 2009, he worked as a professor in painting at Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf. Oehlen’s work has been exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions. Recent solo shows include “Malerei,” Kunsthalle Vierseithof, Germany (2000); “Terminale Erfrischung: Computercollagen und Malerei,” Kestner-Gesellschaft, Germany (2001); Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg, France (2002); Salzburger Kunstverein, Austria (2004); “Albert Oehlen, Malerei 1980–2004, Selbstportrait mit 50millionenfacher Lichtgeschwindigkeit,” Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Switzerland (2004, traveled to Domus Artium 2002, Spain); Vienna Secession, Austria (2004); FRAC Auvergne, France (2005); “I know whom you showed last summer,” Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (2005); “I Will Always Champion Good Painting,” Whitechapel Gallery, London (2006); Museo di Capodimonte, Naples (2009); “Réalité abstraite,” Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (2009); “Fingermalerei,” Emil Schumacher Museum, Germany (2010); “Räume für Kunst Albert Oehlen—Werke aus der Sammlung,” Sammlung Grässlin, Germany (2010); Carré Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes, France (2011); “Terpentin,” Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2012); Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna (2013); Museum Wiesenbaden, Germany (2014); “Home and Garden,” New Museum, New York (2015); “An Old Painting in Spirit,” Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland (2015); “Behind the Image,” Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain (2016–17); and “Woods near Oehle,” Cleveland Museum of Art (2016–17). Oehlen's work was included in the 55th Biennale di Venezia in 2013.
Oehlen currently lives and works in Switzerland.