Famously the student of Sigmar Polke and contemporary of Martin Kippenberger, Oehlen employs a visual language that might be described as kinetic collage. While the diversity of source material is immediately striking, from sausages to Palm Beach landscapes, what is most haunting about Oehlen’s work is its uncanny evocation of multiple velocities, the skillful grafting of speed and slowness onto a single canvas.
The individual meaning of each component in Oehlen’s paintings is in many ways secondary to the primary meaning of the canvas, which is almost always communicated through the vivid merging of elements. In this new body of work, Oehlen combines image, text and symbol into a single construction that is most immediately reminiscent of an explosion. This is almost literally represented in Hey (2007), a painting that comprises an obstructed text, a frame within a frame, comic-strip explosion marks and a mysterious grey haze.