THE SAATCHI GALLERY
07 July - 30 October, Modern Painters
Albert Oehlen is awarded the role of swaggering and capricious gang-leaser in the second instalment of Saatchi's painting odyssey. His pathological brand of stylistic sampling infects the work of the younger participants who employ more understated methods by which to reiterate the artifices of paint and representation. In Mirages of Steel (2003) Oehlen mimics the mechanical processes of airbrushing in the rendering of glowing red bulbs, and then spoils his efforts with muddy washes and scrubbings. Such violent turns emphasize the jarring collage effect that has become his trademark weapon of compositional destruction. Dirk Skreber typically combines the alienating distance of aerial photography with a monochrome palette as a means to dislocate the viewer. In his largest painting, Untitled (2003) Skreber simulates the vertiginous sensation that occurs when watching the ground shrink from view during a takeoff, as a sprawling shopping mall is reduced to the scale of a model. The mechanics of gravity are again evident in other examples where tendrils of paint float up from trees and rooftops as if they had been displaced to the bottom of an ocean.
Wilhelm Sasnal, the youngest of the six artist features, represents Poland in the otherwise distinctly German affair. Like Skreber, Sasnal favours the monochrome and frequently uses it to reduce found images to semantically hollow logos. In Car (2002) he deftly changes tact. Rendering the modulations of light on the rear of an ominous and futuristic vehicle using a quasi-photorealistic technique.