Markus Oehlen
  • Introduction

  • Bio

  • Exhibitions

  • Publications

Markus Oehlen: From sound waves to brush strokes

The Oehlen family is its very own artistic collective. The brother of Markus, Albert Oehlen, is a painter, and their father, Adolf Oehlen, is a graphic artist and cartoonist. Markus began his career at the beginning of the 1970s with an apprenticeship as a draftsman. From 1976 to 1982 he studied at the Düsseldorf Art Academy as a student of Alfonso Hüppi, who carefully observed his lateral thinking and unusual painting style and technique.

Oehlen is a member of the Ratinger Hof scene, a collection of artists in Düsseldorf. It was here in 1977, still at an early stage in his career, that he first met the well-known artist Martin Kippenberger. Oehlen was a member of the punk band Charley’s Girls and their successors Mittagspause and Fehlfarben, which had an important and formative influence on the so-called New German Wave music genre. He transfers the audio aesthetic of his music onto the lines of his paintings, and includes bright neon colours that glow in the dark. Sometimes the colour black predominates, pulling us into the depths of the image and submerging us in a didactic and surreal world. For irony he also includes certain elements of change, such as everyday objects and well known figures. He was involved with the music projects Flying Klassenfeind, Vielleichtors, Nachdenkliche Wehrpflichtige, Red Krayola and Van Oehlen, primarily as a drummer, and he also worked as a DJ at the Ratinger Hof. It was while working here that he collected impressions of the music and art scenes after dark, images he then let mutate into strange “skeletal” or “embryonic” people. Influenced by the “wild and heavy painting” or the “wild youth” of Rainer Fetting, Bernd Zimmer, and Helmut Middendorf, he fights against the notion that surreal or lateral thinking is rooted either in the New York or British punk scenes. To him it is also reflective of his time in Düsseldorf, and he sees himself as a continuation and renewal of this tradition, as another “new wild”. Oehlen disassembles, reassembles and creates new montages in a unique painting style that involves the use of knives and scratching techniques. To him, music is an image, art is audible and visible, and normalised value systems are there to be avoided or destroyed.

In 1981 Oehlen founded the “Church of Invariability” together with Werner Büttner and his brother Albert Oehlen, with whom he now worked together for the first time. In 1993 he held the exhibition “Projects 39” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York together with Georg Herold. Since 2002 he has held a professorship at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.

Christina Wendenburg
1956Born in Krefeld
1971-1973    Apprenticeship as design draftsman
1976-1982Studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf
Seit 2002Professor at the Kunstakademie der Bildenden Künste Munich

Collections (Selection)

Kunstraum Grässlin, St. Georgen
Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach
Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe
Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen
Museum Villa Haiss, Zell am Harmersbach
Sammlung Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden
Kunsthalle Weishaupt, Ulm
Sammlung zeitgenössischer Kunst der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn
Sammlung Alison & Peter W. Klein, Eberdingen
Sammlung Essl - Kunsthaus, Klosterneuburg, Austria
Centro Cultural Andratx, Andratx/Mallorca, Spain
Proje4L/Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art, Istanbul, Turkey
Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, USA

Exhibitions (Selection)

2010"the metalshit metaphacre" - Galerie Sabine Knust - Maximilian Verlag, Munich
Starfighter - Galerie der Stadt Backnang
2008Galerie Bärbel Grässlin, Frankfurt/Main, Suzanne Tarasiève Galerie, Paris, France
2007„Die Landung“, Galerie Noah, Augsburg
2006/07    „FASTER! BIGGER! BETTER!, ZKM - Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe
2006„Neue Malerei - Erwerbungen 2002-2005", Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden
Haus der Kunst, „künstlerbrüder - von den dürers zu den duchamps“
2003Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin: „Action Button“
2001Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg: „Salons de Musique“; Centro Cultural Andratx, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
1999INIT-Kunsthalle, Berlin: „Malerei“
1996Kunstverein Kassel
1995Museum Dhondt Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium
1984Von hier aus – Zwei Monate neue deutsche Kunst in Düsseldorf, "Für eine Handvoll D-Mark"
1979Künstlerhaus Hamburg; „Böthe Thungen – chlechte Tchäne“ zusammen mit Albert Oehlen in Düsseldorf

Books/Catalogs (Selection)

Markus Oehlen. 1981–2008 von Markus Oehlen
Teipel, Jürgen: Verschwende Deine Jugend. Ein Doku-Roman über den deutschen Punk und New Wave. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt/Main 2001
Art – Das Kunstmagazin: 02/1989
Markus Oehlen: 14. September – 19. Oktober 1985, Reinhard Onnasch Galerie. Berlin 1985

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