Although Albert Oehlen studied with Sigmar Polke, he has always maintained that his main influence has been Joseph Beuys. Oddly enough, the passage of time seems to have returned his painting to the arms of his first teacher, not because there is any direct influence or improper mimesis in it, but due to a certain atmosphere and a certain will which remind us of him in some way. In Oehlen's painting from the nineties it seems we might discover something similar to Polke's disappointment with reality and something like the ambiguity of his images. His most recent work is a very different painting from the neo-Expressionist pieces of the eighties, in which autobiographical, metaphorical or overtly sexual themes predominated, with solid images constructed against lumpy, unexpected backgrounds with confident brushstrokes loaded with earthy, subdued, even deliberately sombre, colours. A period the artist considered at an end in 1988. Oehlen's 1994 series -something new for him, as he had never wanted to use the method- with the common title "Untitled", to which this painting belongs, accumulates on a more or less gloomy background stains, splashes and blows with the brush, generally in luminous, acid colours, which eventually take on a certain solid, opaque contexture. It is as if the artist were holding a strange, discordant dialogue with abstraction as it is understood historically and, most of all, with the brand practised in his own time. The humour has disappeared, but the irony remains unchanged. We should also quote another of his flat statements made ten years earlier: "I may give the impression of cynicism because I prefer themes which produce friction, in which reality clashes with a pretension or ideas related to the history of art come into contradiction with the real history of art."
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