Gerhardsen Gerner

Markus Oehlen

04 Sep - 02 Oct 2015

© Markus Oehlen
Untitled (1986)
Acrylic, oil on canvas
approx. 180 x 150 cm
4 September – 2 October 2015

Back in 2001, Jürgen Teipel recalled the German New Wave in his book Verschwende Deine Jugend. Cinematically, the 1980s are currently being honored in Oskar Roehler's film Tod den Hippies – Es lebe der Punk (Death to Hippies - Long Live Punk) and the essay film B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989. Now the big museums are even following suit: while the Haus der Kunst in Munich draws the connection between the music and art scenes of this period in the exhibition Genial Diletantes. Subculture in Germany in the 1980s, a month later the Städel Museum in Frankfurt/Main opens the exhibition The 80s, which is dedicated to the figurative painting of the 1980s.

The 1980s was the time of rebellion through negation in aesthetics. Joseph Beuys' notion that "everyone is an artist" found resonance, and it was a chance for everyone to "make themselves heard" (Thomas Meinecke, Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle).

This transformation took place not only in music, but also quite clearly in fine arts. "An image could also be punk," says Schorsch Kamerun, singer of the Goldenen Zitronen. The inclination toward quick and vigorous painting was manifested in the large-format works of the "Neue Wilden" such as Markus Oehlen, A.R. Penck, Martin Kippenberger or Walter Dahn. Markus Oehlen, who was also a musician in the bands Mittagspause, Charley's Girls, Flying Klassenfeind, Vielleichtors and Van Oehlen, embodies this spontaneity, which stood in opposition to academic theorizing, in his painting: the artist first discovered the content of his art in the process.

The artistic impact of this total opposition, which used brutal noise and riot, design and fashion beyond all conventional taste, and a new, expressive, wild painting opposing the prevailing zeitgeist, found international recognition.

For the fifth solo exhibition by Markus Oehlen at Gerhardsen Gerner we are happy to revisit early works by the artist and show paintings from the 1980s.

Even in the early 1980s, Oehlen constructed his images so that – despite spatially expansive pictorial elements – the (then black) line took on a special compositional significance. The choice of colors evolved from a rather dark, earth-tone oriented pallet toward high-contrast compositions. In the 1990s, found images are gradually incorporated, taken from their previous context and acquiring their own new function. Or the cord pictures, which had an influence on the further work of the artist. Oehlen became increasingly interested in the perceptual experiments of Op Art and the cord slowly develop into – later printed – visually distorted elements that lay like grids over and under the complicatedly layered images. Along with forms that use a computer oriented aesthetic, it also lends the pictures a serial aspect. This can also be understood as an ironic commentary on the expressivity of painting and – in retrospect – on the artistic movement of "Neue Wilden" itself.

Personal and group exhibitions among others: Haus der Kunst, Munich (2015, 2005); Städel Museum, Frankfurt/Main (2015); Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden (2014, 2013, 2010, 2006), LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn (2012), Kunsthalle Gießen (2010), Centro Cultural Andratx (2009), ZKM, Karlsruhe (2009), Ursula Blickle Stiftung (2007), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2007); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2005); Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach (2000), MoMA, New York (1993).

Public collections (selection) : Essl Museum–Kunst der Gegenwart, Klosterneuburg; Kunstraum Grässlin, St. Georgen; Kunsthalle Weishaupt, Ulm; Kunstwerk, Alison & Peter Klein Collection, Eberdingen; Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden; Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt/Main; Museum Villa Haiss, Zell a.H.; Proje4L–Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, Istanbul; Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis; Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach; ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe

Tags: Joseph Beuys, Walter Dahn, Martin Kippenberger, Markus Oehlen, A. R. Penck