Albert Oehlen, Scheidewege (Crossroads), 1992–95, silk screen, oil, and acrylic on canvas, 78 3/4 x 78 3/4".

Albert Oehlen, Scheidewege (Crossroads), 1992–95, silk screen, oil, and acrylic on canvas, 78 3/4 x 78 3/4".

Albert Oehlen

Albert Oehlen, Scheidewege (Crossroads), 1992–95, silk screen, oil, and acrylic on canvas, 78 3/4 x 78 3/4".

INFORMATION NETWORKS have no special importance for me as a painter. I chose painting because I want to be left alone with media issues. When media or technique takes precedence, the art is mostly not interesting.

Nondigital information networks—the kind that create a social context, chains of gossip, etc.—might be very important, but if I know about all of this, does it make me an enlightened artist, or a smart manipulator?

In my case, the painter is in the studio and paints and the viewer is in the gallery and looks. This situation, one against many, is better for me than when
I am one among many.

When I am in the studio, I don’t think about how the final product will circulate as an image. My colleague Dokupil once told me that a painting should always work as a stamp. It should look good in very small reproductions or seen from very far. I like that thought, though I don’t know if it’s true. I think that my paintings look terrible reproduced. Yet I believe my own judgments about other people’s art, even if I have only seen a tiny picture. Anyway, I think it’s not possible to control how a work is received. With the installation of my 1995 piece Untitled (9 1/2 weeks), I projected the movie onto the canvas. I thought, OK, I can’t determine the reception of what I make, but I can influence how long people look at it. By showing a movie, I could make the audience stare at my painting for ninety minutes. The brainwashing that goes on in the film changed its direction and worked for my painting.