I Overheard It Through The Grapevine
(Press release for Markus Oehlen’s exhibition ‘Chez Calbin’ at Karma International, Zürich, March 28-May 8, 2021)
Corrupt assumptions breathe life into these flat vertical suggestions and speculations about space,
real, imagined internal. Chains of association bound to shifting verdicts running forward,
continuous ever morphing beep-popping-crackle-fizz hot/cold and back again infinitely - the
moment your eye seems to have caught up with your brain, the proverbial ball is dropped and
you’re left alone on the field.
Our eyes once again trick us.
It is now your turn to run.
Then there is the one with the underwear. Mr. Calbin I presume. With hand raised, a swollen figure
appears to race through his own private Idaho chased by the paparazzi eyes of the viewer. But it’s
about painting. Return to that thought. That idea.
The figures perform more than one function, both as a sign as well as entry into our expectations of
painting containing such things.
A painting is also a location in time.
What enters into these are half conversations manifested into visuals that one might overhear in a
noisy bar or restaurant as opposed to being the one actively speaking. Peripheral. Did they just say
what I think I heard them say? Did I just see what I think I did? Is that hair on a stomach or elegant
lines on a surface or both?
By the time you turn around, the conversation is over and the people have gone. Only the residue of
misunderstanding is left ringing in ones head. Space created through misunderstanding.
Here, the pores, once very tightly sealed (earlier approaches), open up and the poison sweats loose
it’s transparent textures; the suggestions of brushstrokes. A painting is an idea after-all, along with
all of its components that we humans invented. Markus is the one you go to have yours modified.
To get the pin striping or the flames painted on it.
Frank Stella, in an interview, once said that painting is about space. If one accepts this idea and
applies it to the work of Markus Oehlen, I would add that Markus creates space out of
misunderstanding in addition to space real or illusionistic. A construction playful in its use of
signifiers of what it is that a painting contains. No Chance.
Yes and no don’t automatically mean maybe.