watercolor, pencil and ink on carton
30.5 x 22.9 cm
[from the pressrelease]
In several of twenty-one small works in watercolor and ink on paper on view in Athens, Oehlen also refers to the same source as the John Graham paintings of his 2021 exhibition at Gagosian Beverly Hills. In these new drawings, Oehlen works alternately in black and white and with a restricted color palette, picturing biomorphic forms alongside wholly abstract passages, infusing both with anarchic energy.
In thirteen larger works in ink, paper, pencil, and watercolor, on paper, Oehlen refers to his Ö-Norm paintings of 2020–21. Characterized by wandering organic lines that often stretch to the edges of their supports, the drawings share with their root paintings a raw, unfinished quality and establish a tension between elegance and abjection. Here, drawing becomes an arena in which ideas of authenticity and expression undergo a thorough but still playful reassessment through experimentation with line, shape, and tone. An additional large charcoal drawing from 2016 features a loose web of black lines that traces the expansive gestures and directional shifts of the artist’s hand.
Finally, in six collages from 2009, Oehlen juxtaposes various found images and materials, including posters, postcards, stickers, and magazine advertisements, with original drawings and prints. These pared-down compositions allude to the continual reframing of aesthetic value and conceptual weight characteristic of twenty-first century consumer culture, while the heterogeneity of their components also challenges the viewer to uncover further visual and thematic links.