Local Release

(businessdoceurope) Industry news: Painter goes to Picture

Andreas and Yuan Rothbauer’s Berlin-based Picture Tree International has acquired worldwide rights to the Oliver Hirschbiegel and Albert Oehlen docufiction collaboration The Painter starring Ben Becker, and featuring the voice of Charlotte Rampling. The film is currently in post-production in Munich and will be being made available by the sales company for Autumn festivals.

The film is described as a one-man ‘tour de force’ depicting artist Albert Oehlen struggling with a painting and the meaning of his creation. Under the direction of acclaimed director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall), actor Ben Becker (Brother of Sleep) impersonates the famous contemporary painter Albert Oehlen and re-creates a painting that Oehlen himself is creating in parallel, step by step, in the background, with the actor improvising the process in front of the camera.

The film follows the artist/actor as he struggles and suffers with this process until the white canvas is turned into a finished painting. “The outcome is a one man rollercoaster that appears to be a documentary but in fact is a staged and guided improvisation with the ‘real’ process happening behind the camera. The Painter is a constant flow of the artist’s journey with elements of farce and comedy topped with emotional moments of truth….in front of and behind the camera and leaving it up to us to decide what is real and/or authentic,” says the production release.

“This concoction is indeed a mixologist’s cocktail of being fascinating, challenging, diverting, unsettling and insightful. On the other hand it’s also cheeky, experimental, amusing, full of wicked irony and tennis racquets – and very funny in parts, disruptive, myth-busting and multi-layered,” says executive producer Mike Downey, “It’s also an enigma about authorship, the art world, the public and the market. It plays with a number of ideas which are not only profound in respect to how the man in the street defines what is art – it also challenges to what extent the artists’ role is authorial, and to what extent the participants play this role.”

Oliver Hirschbiegel and Albert Oehlen are long-time friends and collaborators and both studied at the ‘Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Hamburg’ with ‘The Painter’ being their first artistic collaboration in a long while.

The music is provided by icon of the German electronic music scene and legendary singer-composer  DJ Gudrun Gut. Gudrun was founding member of the band Malaria and the experimental project ‘Matador’ with Pepita Duursma and Beate Bartel, as well as running the Music Project ‘Ocean Club’ which had regular shows in the legendary Berlin club Tresor. He also performed foreign shows in the UK and China as well as a weekly show on Berlin Cult Radio ‘Radio Eins’ until 2012. Gudrun also supplies the German voice-over.

“This is a piece of work that can become a commentary not just about art itself – but a demonstration of the artist – the way the artist works – and in ironic counterpoint play with the idea of the actual relevance of that fact in itself,” continues Downey, “What are the values of art? Aesthetic, financial, what else? What is the difference between artistic and aesthetic value? Is there a distinction? Equally we grapple with the eternal problem the history of art has long been centered on – the myth of the artist rather than on the artworks themselves. And while we are at it, let’s throw into the mix the perennial [statement]: “Anyone could do that” – “well you didn’t!” and the old “art is subjective,” the oft repeated euphemism for “don’t ask me to explain it.”

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