Lisson Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Julian Opie. This will be his seventh solo exhibition at Lisson, the first since 2001.
Following on from his giant projects at K21 Düsseldorf and MoMA, New York and specially commissioned portraits of rock band Blur, and Formula One driver Jacques Villeneuve, as well as installations for Selfridges, Manchester and Sadlers Wells, this show takes the theme of portraiture to new extremes.
In this new body of work, Opie extends his language of portraiture by devoting one room to each of three subjects: Sara, a professional model, Monique a Swiss collector, and Bryan, a well-known rockstar. Using computer animation, vinyl, sound and LED displays, Opie gives an unexpected interpretation of the familiar classicism of the ‘portrait’. Drawing from influences as diverse as billboard signs, classical portraiture and sculpture, to Japanese Manga comics and Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin, Opie ‘paints’ using a variety of media and technologies which enable him to make three-dimensional explorations of his subjects.
In the largest room Opie presents Sara Gets Undressed. For this mixed media study he hired a model from So Damn Tough, an agency specialising in an alternative aesthetic. Sara’s professional ease with her nudity is apparent, her stance vaguely aggressive and authoritative. In one work, Sara dancing, Opie uses LED (light emitting diode) technology more commonly associated with digital clocks or motorway messaging, to form a life-size panel of Sara dancing topless. Preparing no fewer than 58 drawings to realise the convincing fluidity of her dance, the deadpan treatment of her ‘striptease’ subverts the normal expectation of the viewer. In another work Opie imposes Sara’s figure onto a lenticular panel, the effect of which refers to cubism’s deconstruction of form whereby it is fragmented to reveal several sides simultaneously. From one angle we see Sara clothed and from the other she is ‘magically’ naked.
In the second room entitled Bryan playing the guitar, Opie pays homage to Warhol’s Double Elvis, using multiple imaging to capture the essence of Canadian rockstar Bryan Adams. These works evolved from a collaboration with the musician, who has recorded a special piece of music which will ‘emanate’ from the paintings. The use of multiple images suggests movement and gives the viewer the impression of having ‘read’ the subject from three dimensions.
This is Monique is perhaps the most ‘romantic’ and intimate study in the exhibition. Inspired by the romanticism of Monet and Gainsborough’s regal ‘society’ portraits of the late 18th century aristocracy, he celebrates the poise and style of Monique from various perspectives. In one collective work he studies his subject in close-up detail across 21 paintings, echoing the multiplicity of Monet’s Haystack paintings. From a distance, these images appear to be flat black but on closer inspection, the black lines are ‘flocked’ like wallpaper. This unexpected
texture adds a tactile dimension, which simultaneously invites and forbids touch rather like the persona of the subject herself.
Julian Opie lives and works in London. Recent one-person exhibitions include “Bijou gets undressed”, K21 Dusseldorf, Germany 2003 ’’Einladung Julian Opie’, Neues Museum Nürenberg, Nurenberg 2003, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham 2001. Past and forthcoming projects include: Visual Arts at Sadlers Wells,London 2003; General Assembly curated installation for Selfridges, Manchester,2003. An outdoor installation for the Public Art Fund, on Broadway, NYC is scheduled for September 2004 and the Boston I.C.A City Project for 2005.