Rome presents an exhibition of large-scale recent drawings by Albert Oehlen, following an exhibition of paintings at Gagosian New York earlier this year.
For Oehlen, the practice of drawing, like painting, is a subject in itself. Considering its natural expressionistic requirements and conditions, he reflects on the mark and its inverse, counteracting the gestural intuitiveness that is intrinsic to the act with an artificiality contrived according to parameters known only to himself.
Using elemental charcoal as his only tool, he applies the line vigorously, sometimes doubling on his own trace, smudging the medium, or completely erasing it in parts. Eventually the composition is fixed on the broad expanse of paper. These large works have a raw elegance, composed of apparently informal gesturesbold, sweeping lines, smudges, and swipesin contrast to sometimes self-consciously awkward capitulations. Nothing coheres in a way that could be said to have substantive narrative dimension or pictorial legibility, except for visible stops and starts that prod the limits of content.
The resulting untitled drawings are thus the opposite of pure sensation, seeming to be impulsive and aleatory while in fact they are highly constructed. It is in this formal paradox or subterfuge of effect that the depth of content resides.
A fully illustrated catalogue of the exhibition is forthcoming and will include an essay by Danilo Eccher.
Albert Oehlen was born in 1954 in Krefeld, Germany and studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst. From 200009 he was a professor of painting at the Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf. Recent solo exhibitions include Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg (2002); "I know whom you showed last summer," Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (2005); "Réalité abstraite," Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris (2009); "Albert Oehlen-Werke aus der Sammlung," Räume für Kunst (2010); and Carré d'Art-Musée d'art contemporain de Nimes (2011).