Tom McKinley and Albert Oehlen in San Franciso

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Kenneth Baker reports. “A paradox has always lain close to the heart of abstract painting: the idea of a picture without depiction. Various artists have mobilized this paradox for their own purposes in the past century or so. When Oehlen does it, he produces a sort of burlesque of the crack-up of modernism….Behind his demolition of the modernist idea that art progresses, Oehlen’s work winks out the question whether a painter can mean his work in any sense that its history can teach us to recognize. More than a matter of the artist’s creative posture, this is a question of the cultural and political pressures bearing on painting and its reception. Oehlen’s art does not illuminate those pressures, for their specifics will continue to change; it merely makes us sense them with fresh discomfort….McKinley’s paintings come nearly untouched by the anxieties and ironies that inform Oehlen’s art. McKinley describes perfected domestic worlds so rigidly ruled by ideas of style as to eclipse any possibility of living. Only his evident pleasure in making the paintings offsets their mood. ” Read more.

Tom McKinley,” John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Through May 3.
Albert Oehlen: Paintings 1988-2008,” John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Through May 17.

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