Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 2009–11, oil and paper on canvas, 82 3/4 x 105 3/8".

Albert Oehlen

Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 2009–11, oil and paper on canvas, 82 3/4 x 105 3/8".

In the 1980s, Albert Oehlen began exploiting hackneyed figuration to exquisitely perverse effect, thereby rendering “bad painting” an unassailable good object. By the end of that decade, he had mounted a reaction-formation-like foray into pure abstraction that was equally, if oppositely, estranging. These approaches are two sides of the same coin, yet the artist nevertheless took some time to hold them in tension, together. In his work of the past few years—including the seventeen canvases in this show, his first at Gagosian—they finally intermingle, a critical collusion that, no doubt, represents some kind of triumph. The results: large-scale panels that flaunt smudged gestural marks and appropriated elements, most commonly billboards emblazoned with corporate logos and edges rough enough to make clear their superimposition on white-primed canvases, against which their

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