'Julian Opie on VR, shuffle dancing and obsessive art collecting' - Wallpaper*
10 March 2023
Wallpaper* interviews artist Julian Opie on life, work and his new playground of VR at Lisson gallery, and peek behind the scenes of his London studio
Julian Opie's art is a language of its own. Its vocabulary is the essence of everyday human experiences; its grammar is sensation.
The acclaimed British artist’s name is synonymous with Pop Art-contoured, heavily-lined figures in motion, landscapes and architecture. Boiled down to states of pure reduction, they appeal to our most fundamental capacity for perception and recognition.
Ever the embracer of technological innovation, Opie has recently been immersed in the world of virtual reality. In 'Julian Opie: OP.VR@LISSON/London', until 15 April 2023, the artist has conceived a playground of colour and movement via an ambitious new VR work and a dynamic series of animated sequences based on a high-energy, TikTok-viral dance sequence.
Wallpaper*: Where are you right now?
Julian Opie: I’m sitting on the stairs at Lisson Gallery, London, installing a new exhibition. Many of the artworks are Wi-Fi-connected so my team and I can work on them remotely. I’m also installing a show in Changsha, China, this week, which has been done remotely. To work like this and plan complicated installations, I developed a VR system to allow me to visualise works in new spaces.
W*: Describe your studio
JO: It’s a building in Shoreditch that I bought back in the 1980s when it seemed a very remote and run-down area. Now it’s super lively and I’m usually the oldest person around.
I set up a 9m by 5m empty cardboard space in my studio to allow me to look at works in VR and move freely around them with goggles. I found myself enjoying just being in this alternative world and set about making an exhibition that would share this experience. The cardboard room takes up the top floor of my studio – where I work alone with a computer, a double-screen display and a digital drawing pad. The floor below has an office and a room for the technical digital team. I hang other artists’ work on these two floors and battle the tide of samples and tests that covers most surfaces. The ground floor is usually full of crates and works coming in from various factories and workshops. I hang my own works here to test, judge and photograph. The basement has a workshop with a large digital printing machine.
The whole building feels like home and when I arrive on my bike each morning an hour or so before anyone else I feel a sense of calm. I have been there for so long that the space and my work seem locked together.
Read the full interview by Harriet Lloyd-Smith in Wallpaper* here.
Julian Opie: OP.VR@LISSON/London is on view through 15 April 2023.