Michael von Ofen at the Alison Jacques Gallery

The works in this solo show by Michael von Ofen take as their starting point paintings from the nineteenth century. These are then boiled down to enigmatic representations of form, line and, for want of a better phrase, aura. The results are surprisingly compelling.

A couple of examples show the diversity of this exhibition. Landschaft (above) is as enigmatic as a photo taken out of a hotel window, it reminds me of a lot of contemporary art photography. It’s also rather beautiful and I’d like for it to be on my wall; Der Dichtende Leutnant (The Rhyming Lieutenant) uses about ten sets of strokes to show a stern soldier. He looks like Lenin lost in thought.

There’s an artistic argument running through the works about representation and the limitations of painting. You can get involved with that. Or you can stand back and bask in the pleasure of the subtle depths of these apparently straightforward works.


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