Albert Oehlen: Aesthetic & Political

Albert Oehlen, No.9, 2007, Courtesy Zabludowicz Collection, the artist and Thoma
Albert Oehlen, No.9, 2007, Courtesy Zabludowicz Collection, the artist and Thomas Dane Associates, London

Dan Coombs reviews an exhibition of works by Albert Oehlen at The Zabludowicz Collection, London, on view through August 11, 2013.

Coombs writes that Oehlen "seems to sustain his practice through a belief in painting’s formal possibilities. He is ... willing to get lost in colour, shape and line. The more recent work is intense and compelling. Yet Oehlen never lets go of the tension that exists between an idea of painting as an aesthetic act, and the idea of painting as an act with political implications. A political question lurks inside his work. He seems to be asking – what sort of agency do I have in the world? Am I creating something here, or am I just reconfiguring what already exists? Am I rebelling or am I in fact being acquiescent? There’s also a utopian impulse – to make failure into virtue, to redeem failure, awkwardness and inarticulacy by making them articulate."