Friday, August 14, 2015

Albert Oehlen at New Museum

Albert Oehlen at New Museum

Reviews of Oehlen's throw a lot of adjectives; as if adjectives themselves could make good on the pact of a reviewer's positivity. While Oehlen's paintings are adjective heavy, full of attributes and modifiers, this seems to miss the point that the adjectives of Oehlen's painting generally are interesting only in their distance from their general use in painting.  Tangled, virtuosic, derelict, elegant, ironic, jazzed, these schmaltzyest of painting's descriptors match Oehlen only in an askew perverted means, a knight's move, the longest way to it. When called "the most resourceful painter alive" the interest is in the way resourceful becomes an ironic term of painting, Oehlen's "resourcefulness" is less a clever solution than a brutal overcoming, Oehlen isn't much resourceful at all.
Oehlen proved you could have critical-punk and painting too, without the meta-games of Kippenbergeresque politic, that you could fiercely champion painting without quotes around it and not be shown the door. Schjeldahl is right to point out that this may leave us in the realm of painting as formal jazz, a cloistered relevance, and the second generation of Oehlenist abstraction currently flooding markets -which seem content with careers extrapolated from single ticks of their father's - might bolster the point, but there is something humanist about hanging one's face out the window and really letting it hit you.

And so see too: Albert Oehlen at Skarstedt