Albert Oehlen at the Serpentine



Albert Oehlen is an exciting, not to say pugnacious, artist. One of the Neue Wilde generation that emerged in Germany in the 1980s, he is still going strong. He mixes oil painting with digital printing and collage and the result is something special.

You really need to download the 35 page press pack if you want to get  to grips with the complexity of his sources. You would never guess that the huge central paintings represent his response to the Rothko chapel in Houston. Neither are you likely to divine the recurring bald head with lopsided moustache originates from a painting by John Graham, who died in 1961. Characteristically Oehlen was attracted to the amateur or in this case ‘the spectacularly bad’ as he put it.

On the other hand there is much to enjoy without getting enmeshed in the iconography. ‘Paintings has extensive means of divesting reality of its verisimilitude’ (Dawn Ades). Just go with the flow and see where it takes you.


Albert Oehlen is at the Serpentine gallery in Hyde Park until 20 February 2020








2 Comments Add yours

  1. Tony Benn says:

    These paintings are difficult to grasp. They seem to offer themselves up in what has now become a conventional manner with a layered open network of signs and symbols. But the conceit of the John Graham image sort of irritates but does get under your skin which is the point. The work in the central room are the most absorbing and rewarding to spend time with.

    1. fenellacrichton says:

      You are so right. ‘Under your skin’ is exactly what they do

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