Albert Oehlen (b. 1954) exaggerates and distorts the conventions of abstract painting, breaking rules as a way to critique traditions based on taste and canonized art historical narratives. His paintings are steeped in an aesthetic of extravagance and indulgence, often containing jarring color combinations, half-baked forms, and decorative touches.
Oehlen’s Ziggy Stardust (2001) pays homage in its title to musician David Bowie, who used his lavish alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust, to examine the power — and the destructive nature — of Rock and Roll. By channeling Bowie, Oehlen draws attention to the excesses of painting.
Beginning with an austere architectural CAD drawing, Oehlen the launches an assault on the canvas with bilious color, sludgy forms, and clashing techniques. Combining computer-generated and gestural marks, Oehlen prods at the very idea of the artist’s hand and supposed creative genius.
Photographed in The Broad Museum in Downtown Los Angeles.