Julian Opie’s work is instantly recognisable in public commissions around the world. One of the most significant artists of his generation, his distinctive formal language is the result of digital alteration, presenting images as black outlines and simplified areas of colour; it speaks of Minimal and Pop art, of billboard signs, classical portraiture and sculpture and Japanese woodblock prints. “Things in my experience don’t look photographic”, he observed in 2001. “When I recall the things I did in a day, for example, it’s not as a series of photographs, high resolution pictures. It’s a series of images which resemble symbols and signs. It’s like another language.” Opie ‘paints’ using a variety of media and technologies, from inkjet on canvas and painted aluminium to vinyl on walls and sculptures of everyday features: scaled-down buildings, life-size cars, signposts. His programme of purification has been applied to reproductions of paintings, telephone directories, books and to portraits, where faces or bodies are abbreviated to astonishing likenesses. Landscapes are emptied out of unmemorable detail to become the essence of themselves; the subtle, repetitive movements in Opie’s wall-mounted computer films of Japanese landscapes have a hypnotic quality.
Julian Opie was born in London in 1958 and lives and works in London. He graduated from Goldsmith’s School of Art, London in 1982. Solo exhibitions include Kunsthalle Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland (2015); Museum of Contemporary Art Krakow (MoCAK), Krakow, Poland (2014); National Portrait Gallery, London, United Kingdom (2011); IVAM, Valencia, Spain (2010); MAK, Vienna (2008); CAC Malaga, Spain (2006); Neues Museum, Nuremburg, Germany (2003); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2001); Kunstverein Hannover, Germany (1994) and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (1985). Major group exhibitions include the Shanghai Biennale (2006), 11th Biennial of Sydney (1998), documenta 8, Kassel, Germany (1987) and XIIème Biennale de Paris (1985). His public projects include works for hospitals, such as Barts & the London Hospital (2003) and the Lindo Wing, St Mary’s Hospital, London (2012), Heathrow Terminal 1 (1998), the prison Wormwood Scrubs, London (1994) and his design for the band Blur’s album (2000), for which he was awarded the Music Week CADS for Best Illustration in 2001. Opie’s work is held in many major museum collections including the Arts Council, England; British Museum, London; Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh; IVAM Museum of Modern Art, New York; MoMAT Tokyo; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; National Portrait Gallery, London; Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Collection, London and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.