Lisson Gallery is proud to announce an exhibition of new work by Julian Opie. In the broadest single display of his practice to-date, Opie employs the concise vernacular of modern media, depicting new subjects in previously unexplored mediums as well as self referentially developing ideas from his early works. He reinterprets the vocabulary of everyday life, opening a discussion between the slick visual language of modern society and art history.
The exhibition includes a striking series of walking figures, which have increasingly become an important part of the artist’s practice. Simplified to the point of becoming human ‘logos’, walkers in vinyl are displayed in an extended line, recalling Egyptian friezes. In an intriguing and radical development for the artist, he has captured unknown passers-by from the streets of London rather than working with personally known subjects.
Opie’s choice of medium is key in drawing attention to the physicality of his portraits. Two major new bodies of work mark a technical departure for Opie and juxtapose modern and classical sources. A group of mosaic portraits explore the relationship between sculpture and painting by emphasising the materiality of the imagery. This relationship is taken further in a series of painted busts on plinths in the same room, which beguilingly unite sculptural forms with flat imagery.
Opie’s animations instil the fields of portraiture and landscape painting with a new sense of life and dynamism. A series of six digitally animated landscapes on LCD screens, complemented by an internal soundtrack of natural sounds, offer a window into the idyllic pastoral landscape of central France. While his landscapes are presented in a vertical format that calls to mind the Japanese landscape prints of Hiroshige, the medium is directly inspired by advertising and signage.
The ambience and evocativeness of these scenes is echoed in the film, Winter. (2012), which invites the viewer on a journey through the beauty of a bleak winter day. Compiled of over seventy digital sketches, the film is accompanied by a specially commissioned score written by Paul Englishby (award winning composer for An Education and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), resulting in an immersive and cinematic experience that merges romanticism with contemporary style.
A monumental double-sided LED sculpture of a galloping horse mounted on a plinth, rises above the walls of the gallery’s sculpture courtyard. The animation – high enough to be seen from the street outside the gallery – becomes part of public life like the equine monuments around London that it directly references. Opie has a number of public art works around the city, including 3 men walking. (2008) in the sculpture park at No 30 St Mary Axe “The Gherkin”. This will be joined by three of Opie’s sculptures from his Caterina dancing naked. series during the summer, coinciding with Opie’s exhibition at Lisson Gallery.