Art museums Reviews Things to do

Albert Oehlen at Serpentine Galleries

Albert Oehlen’s exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries has big, bright, bold paintings that are apparently deliberately amateur looking. They are fun and cheerful and have the ability to brighten up the greyest of winter days.

Albert Oehlen’s paintings aim to deconstruct the medium to its bare bones and this latest exhibition is a hit with us (and also our toddler!). The bright colours, large canvases and the moustachioed Daliesque style subjects had us shouting ‘look! Pirate mummy.’ several times as we wandered through the exhibition.

At the centre of Serpentine Gallery there’s an installation that marks the beginning of Oehlen’s process of interpreting the Rothko Chapel in Houston and four new paintings of the same scale and size as those found in the chapel have been specifically made for this exhibition. It was here that we sat mesmerised by their huge scale. Sure they may be simplistic looking – but they are still very arresting. Alongside the central installation is a selection of paintings from the last two decades. Going along with our soon to be three year old meant that we could encourage him to do some painting afterwards. Honestly it was the most excited we had seen our little Londoner about paintings. Normally he’s into sculpture, installation or anything he can immerse himself into. 

Shame one staff member was not sharing our enthusiasm and instead greeted us with a trio of nos “No running, No leaving of the pram, No getting too close to the paintings” so we left. But should this not have happened we would have stayed a lot longer to take in some more of the exhibition instead of the measly 20 minutes. 

A newly configured soundtrack from Swiss ensemble, Steamboat Switzerland, will play at intervals throughout the duration of the entire exhibition. We didn’t get to hear this though on our visit, but we shall be back before it ends.

There is also Cofftea to be had (a combination of Coffee and Tea) which promises to rid you of sleep and is an acquired taste which should definitely not be sampled by children.

It’s definitely worth visiting Albert Oehlen at the Serpentine Gallery with (or without) the kids. Albert Oehlen is on at the Serpentine Gallery until 2 Feb 2020 and it is free to enter and explore. More info here.

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