Kunstsammlungen am Theaterplatz
1. Jul 2018 – 14. Oct 2018

Markus Oehlen

Markus Oehlen
vom Stuhl gefallener Akt mit Trompete

From 1 July to 14 October, the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz am Theaterplatz will be presenting new works by the artist Markus Oehlen (*1956). Decisive elements of the works created in 2018 are cords and printing plates. The special aesthetics of this combination is what makes the pictures, which are now being shown in Chemnitz for the first time, so attractive.

While Markus Oehlen studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, German painting was strongly influenced by the punk movement for many artists of the younger generation. At the time, Oehlen chose a different path than many of his fellow painters, who provoked with politically provocative and satirically figurative painting. Contrary to the trend at the time, he detached his art from social themes and experimented across borders with artistic forms of expression. “I do not believe in honest painting. I love the mix of photography, graphics, painting and sculpture,” he later summarized his working method.

The cord that Markus Oehlen continuously uses for his pictorial inventions is attached to wood and used as a stamp. The printing plates are printed with black and blue acrylic paint on large-format nettle cloth. With this stamping technique the artist creates a special graphic texture and materiality on the fabric. His pictures look like fleeting doodles made with a ballpoint pen. Oehlen contrasts enigmatic abstract elements with interpretable figurative elements. The diversity of the pictorial language demands intensive observation. In the fantastic macrocosm of the works there are countless details. The selection and arrangement of the motifs seem like randomly selected quotations from a world in which all themes, styles and observations have already been processed by the media. Heads, arms, animals, mythical creatures, plants, objects or schematic figures are put together from lines, geometric forms and ribbon structures and appear in ever new connections and overlaps. Quickly graspable compositions alternate with finely divided clusters. Grid and net structures correspond with ornamental and organic elements. Shapes merge with lines, are covered by them and connected to form a lively, restless web. Next to them are quiet picture zones with vertical and horizontal strokes that seem like meditative fields of concentration.

In contrast to these works with their predominantly blue colouring are colour-intensive cord or wrap pictures in which Oehlen directly incorporates the cord. It forms a haptic line that lends the abstract works a relief character. Hanging in contrasting colours on the wallpapered museum walls, the wall is redefined as a functional architectural motif and develops itself into a picture. The exhibition rooms served the artist as a temporary studio. The wallpaper is too-
This collection of computer-edited drawings brings together a broad spectrum of pictorial ideas from recent years. With this combination the artist questions the fixed location of the visual in our perception.

Markus Oehlen is also active as a musician. His pictorial compositions are therefore aptly compared with sampling and arranging in music. He is the conductor of his pictorial worlds and decides on the moods of his works through the choice of motifs and the intensity with which he stamps other forms beyond recognition or gives them space. Alternating between concrete and abstract, the viewer discovers what he is looking for, depending on his expectations, experiences, needs, knowledge and imagination.

Markus Oehlen was born in Krefeld in 1956 and studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy from 1976 to 1982. He is one of the main representatives of the Neue Wilden and belonged to the close circle of the so-called Ratinger Hof in Düsseldorf. Oehlen played there as a drummer in the punk bands Charley’s Girls and Lunch Break. Since 2002 he has been teaching in his home town of Munich as professor for painting and graphic arts at the Academy of Fine Arts.


LECTURE Thursday, 11 October 2018, 6 p.m.
From sampling to bricolage. Strategies in the painting of Markus Oehlen
Franziska Leuthäußer | Curator, Städel Museum

Curator’s tour
by Kerstin Drechsel
Thursday, 5 July 2018, 5 pm

guided tour
Thursday, 26 July 2018, 5 pm

Tour of the exhibition
with Markus Oehlen and Kerstin Drechsel
Thursday, 20 September 2018, 5 p.m.