Zombie Formalism

 Dawn of the dead, filmstill, 1978

Dawn of the dead, filmstill, 1978

Contemporary abstraction borrows blindly from art history, all looks the same and works particularly well if you hang it over the sofa - this is the reproach at the heart of Walter Robinson's idea of "zombie formalism". But maybe art criticism has just forgotten how to look closely. Travis Jeppesen defends abstract painting against its opponents and hits the ball back into their court: it's time for critics to reengage with their subjects and find a new language for painting.

 "Untitled", 2012; Oil, paper on canvas, 230 x 180 cm

"Untitled", 2012; Oil, paper on canvas, 230 x 180 cm; © Albert Oehlen, Courtesy Gagosian Gallery; Photo: Lothar Schnepf

Like almost no other artist, Albert Oehlen subjects painting to a stress test. For over 30 years he’s been tinkering with the medium’s source code: colour and paint application, lines and layers, titles and triumphs, disappointments and expectations. These elements are all played against one another and caught off guard. Daniel Baumann leads us through the work.