Albert Oehlen
Germany, 1954
Albert Oehlen stated flatly in 1984: "We make our painting a social event, according to a particular conception of the role of the painter." The "we" referred to the people who, with him, made up the group which the magazine Art in America had christened "The Gang": his brother Markus, also an artist, and the painters Werner Büttner (Jena, Thuringia, 1954), with whom he formed the group "Disaster of Democracy" in Hamburg, and the late lamented Martin Kippenberger, with whom he performed numerous stage plays for two, which they wrote together. Oehlen's particular conception came both from the relation between painting and politics which denotes his work -hence his portraits of Stalin, Kennedy or Celine- and his inveterate use of cynicism and irony, especially when referring to cultural matters. The social event did not proceed solely from his work's power to provoke, but also from what German neo-Expressionist painting -he was one of its youngest representatives- meant as a renewal of existing artistic languages and a rereading of a recent past that spread its wings over the immediate present.
Mariano Navarro