Oliver Hirschbiegel / DE, CH, 2021 / 95 min.
Ben Becker plays the German painter Albert Oehlen, directed by Oehlen himself. With visible enjoyment, the resulting docufiction creates confusion about authorship, the myth of the genius artist, and the line between irony and authenticity.
The famous German painter Albert Oehlen welcomes us to his studio to share his creative process. We see him struggling with the white canvas, muttering about balance, philosophizing about color and weeping when the canvas ‘isn’t speaking to him’. Finally, the work is finished: an abstract composition like many Oehlen has painted before. Except… the man with the brushes is not Oehlen, but the actor Ben Becker, who plays Oehlen directed by the artist himself.
Oehlen has built his entire career on challenging assumptions and raising questions, and now he does it again. As the creator of the work, is Oehlen the author of the painting produced in the film, or is it Becker, who ‘acts’ reality in this documentary genre bender and executes the idea? And what implications does this have for the aesthetic, financial and ethical value of the artwork? The interplay between irony and authenticity is sometimes hilarious, and mercilessly undermines the myth of the genius artist.
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