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Arnolfini - est 1961

Albert Oehlen

I Will Always Champion Bad Painting

Sat 30 September – Sun 26 November

Coming out of the punk scene of the 1970s, Albert Oehlen has always been interested in what it means to make a ‘bad’ painting. Working with digital technologies, as well as paint on canvas, his works are both provocative and playful, pushing the boundaries of technique and taste. For the last 25 years he has been making work which might at first appear ugly or awkward, but which exuberantly and irreverently reinvents painting.

Oehlen’s work focuses on the process of painting itself rather than ideas of personal expression or formal representation. Oehlen once said, ‘I want an art where you see how it’s made, not what the artist means but the traces of production’. He describes his works as ‘post-non-representational’ as a way of describing his eclectic combinations of abstract and figure-based imagery, techniques, subjects and styles. He builds his works up, layer by layer, using digital print, screen print, collage, oil, acrylic and spray paint, often all on the same canvas.

This exhibition brings together major mixed-media canvases (many of them up to three metres wide), digital poster works, grey paintings, paintings based on pixelated computer designs and small collages. It follows I Will Always Champion Good Painting at Whitechapel, London, which runs until 3 September. The two exhibitions, organised jointly, offer the first in-depth opportunity to explore Oehlen’s work in the UK.

A free Sound Tour and Family Pack are available at reception.


Albert Oehlen studied under Sigmar Polke at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg. A contemporary and collaborator of Martin Kippenberger, he became involved in the Cologne scene of the 1980s, championing ‘Bad’ painting alongside artists such as Werner Büttner and Georg Herold. Oehlen’s work continues, and reacts against, a long tradition of German painting that includes Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter, Jörg Immendorff and Anselm Kiefer. Described fondly as an ‘artist’s artist’ he has been hugely influential to a generation of British artists including Chris Ofili, Peter Doig, Glenn Brown, Darren Almond and Keith Tyson.