Albert Oehlen has been a wild spirit from first to last.
The long-reigning bad boy of German painting has consistently poked and prodded at whatever preciousness we associate with the medium.
Trees frequently figure in Oehlen’s work. As a formal device, it allows freedom of invention, but the invention is structured by internal logic.
Albert Oehlen’s current show at Skarstedt, a selection of 14 “fabric paintings” made between 1992–96, is explosive. Explosive as in a burst or the arrival of a fiery red comet on earth.
Has the outsider art field become a victim of its own success? If so, it is a peculiar “victim,” and its success must be measured by standards that go beyond the money-obsessed art world’s primary criterion for determining aesthetic value — the price tag that any specific work happens to sport at any given time.