Now on view, #AlbertOehlen Spiegelbilder (1982-1990) galeriemaxhetzler London, 41 Dover Street.
Bringing together singular paintings from a significant early series in Albert Oehlen’s oeuvre, this will be the first exhibition dedicated to the Spiegelbilder (‘Mirror Paintings’) in the UK. The exhibition coincides with a major solo show of the artist’s work at the Serpentine Gallery, London, which opens on 2 October 2019.
Spanning eight years, from 1982 – 1990, the Spiegelbilder series straddles a decisive period for the artist, during which he moved from the crude figuration and “bad painting” of the late 1970s and early 80s, towards non-objective painting in the late 1980s. Through the Spiegelbilder, Oehlen cemented his reputation for subverting painting conventions. “This mirror idea allowed me to make an ‘original’ invention, but one that is bearable because it is so hackneyed.” –– Albert Oehlen
One of Oehlen’s earliest bodies of work, the Spiegelbilder are distinguished by actual pieces of mirror collaged onto the surface of the canvas, highlighting the artist’s unconventional approach to painting from the outset. Although visually distinct, there is an attitude and approach in these paintings towards colour, light, scale and line that carries through later series. Belonging to the Spiegelbilder are some of Oehlen’s first self-portraits, a primary example of which will also be exhibited.
Many of the works in the series depict domestic interiors and politically-charged exteriors in a palette of muted colours. Through the incorporation of social and political spaces such as museums, staircases and brick walls as barrier motifs, Oehlen demonstrates his ability to turn controversy into cliché.
In almost all my art, design, logos, paintings, book design, pattern development, typography build etc. there’s a point where I come to a wall. The vision has been developing smoothly but the questions have grown, the vision grows unclear and all of the sudden a wall between “it’s ok, it fits the brief👎🏼” and “YES! This is it!👍🏼” is high and feels unbreakable. I have to think outside the box, look at this same design brief and my same ideas over and over, until I feel like I might just settle for mediocre. But then one moment⚡️✨magic! Inspiration! Something about the way I am viewing the wall begins to change, all of the sudden I see the wall as a grand staircase descending to a ballroom of possibilities! And what often happens next is locking eyes with so much handsome potential it then feels like a new obstacle to the course and on and on until I finally arrive at the Golden idea and it’s almost never exactly as I’ve planned—but that’s the beauty of the creative journey!
....ok I’ll stop procrastinating now and get back to my wall! 😫