Hong KongAlbert Oehlen: Untitled (Bedroom), 2005
Lévy Gorvy presents Albert Oehlen’s installation Untitled (Bedroom) (2005), a rare work by the renowned German artist.
This unique presentation was originally exhibited at Galería Juana de Aizpuru in Madrid and has accompanied his recent retrospectives at mumok, Vienna (2013); the New Museum, New York (2015); and Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2019). It is the first time that this seminal installation has been on view in Asia.
A recreation of Oehlen’s bedroom in Cologne, Untitled (Bedroom) is complete with wallpaper, a carpet, a bed, and a potted plant. Personal artefacts litter the space: a record player and hi-fi system with LPs sit next to a bright orange set of hot plates and a small macchinetta coffee maker. In the bed, even the artist is present: a painted self-portrait lays tucked under the covers, a phantom hand pokes out from under the duvet and clutches a brush so that it appears to be painting the canvas. Shifting attention from painterly compositions to a space associated with their creator, the installation gives the viewer a glimpse of the artist’s life. The stacked records reflect his abiding interest in music and a poster on the wall indicates his previous exhibition at the Secession in Vienna. Yet, the self-portrait in bed inverts this scene, bringing the viewer back to the undermining forces of wit and parody that are ubiquitous in Oehlen’s work.
Both self-consciously provocative and serious in his commitment to furthering the legacy of modernist painting, Oehlen is renowned for subverting conventions in order to develop new aesthetic possibilities. Reacting against the Neo-Expressionist generation that preceded them, Oehlen and the peers with whom he emerged in Berlin and Cologne have used parody in an effort to dethrone romantic notions of the artist and the creative process—engaging with what critic Tom McGlynn has termed ‘a tradition of anti-tradition in post war German painting’. Oehlen’s interiors and self-portraits have been integral components to this direction, incorporating a highly self- reflective attitude, rhetorical tongue-in-cheek, and an undercurrent of material experimentation.
Untitled (Bedroom) represents a singular moment in Oehlen’s ongoing artistic practice. This large- scale installation breaks out of the confines of a canvas, yet engages with long-running preoccupations of the artist: the interior and the self-portrait, subjects that have central to his practice since the ’80s. Seen in the art-historical context of works such as Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles (1888) and Henri Matisse’s The Pink Studio (1911), the space of Oehlen’s Untitled (Bedroom) delves into a mythologised scene of artistic identity and creativity. Stepping into his bedroom, we are invited into a space that is both disarmingly ordinary and intensely personal. Yet the self-portrait tucked into bed challenges the normalcy of this scene, pushing the staged nature of the space to the forefront and confronting this narrative with a strong dose of satire. Oehlen’s room presents a compelling paradox, at once familiar and bizarre, constructed and real, revelatory and artificial, preclusive and engaging.
We are committed to our work in Asia and our relationships with clients, museum colleagues, and the artists we collaborate with there. At the same time, we are mindful of the safety of our teams and our community, and are closely following the situation in Hong Kong as it develops.
Our Hong Kong gallery will remain open to welcome all those who wish to visit. Gallery hours during the Albert Oehlen exhibition will be Monday to Friday from 11 AM–5 PM, and on weekends by appointment.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)