VIENNA.- In this show of Recent Works, the MAK presents a comprehensive solo exhibition of the British artist Julian Opie. The three large bodies of work assembled in the show, Portraits, Nudes, and Land-scapes, survey most recent works by the artist, many of them never shown before. The works of this boundary-pushing artist who always strives to find innovative ways of artistic expression oscillate between painting and sculpture, expanding techniques and readings of art. Julian Opie has been one of the most important exponents of contemporary British art for more than two decades now. And as the MAK keeps breaking up tradition though experimentation, so Opies pictures break away from classical frames to take the form of light-boxes, sculptures, murals, videos, vinyl pictures, LED or LCD screens. And they keep conquering the public realm. (Peter Noever)
Julian Opie who transforms figures, landscapes, and architectures into easily readable typologies in his signature visual language does not confine himself to the MAK Exhibition Hall. His sculpture Ruth walking in Jeans (2008) will be put up on Ringstraße, signalling the show in the public realm. And visitors will be received, and ushered into the show of Recent Works, by two large-scale vinyl cuts from his five-part series Christine swimming (2008) and the large four-part light box Esther, Lotti, Hannah und Ginny put up in the MAK foyer.
One central segment of the exhibition are Opies most recent series of portraits, featuring his latest works Maria Teresa with red shawl, Antonia with evening dress and Maria Teresa with sequined dress, all created 2008. Even more clearly than previous pieces, they illustrate Opies intensive studies of English and Dutch portrait painting of the 17th and 18th centuries. Opie translates historical costumes and the self-confident postures of that epoch into contemporary individual and family portraits.
The portraits are juxtaposed with nudes, in which Opie concerns himself with flows of movement. On view in the show are six pictures and one sculpture from the This is Shahnoza series of 2007 and three works on glass from his This is Bijou series (2004). This group of works will be completed in the show by two computer animations, Suzanne walking forward (2005) und 3 Men walking (2008).
The show also features the first complete public presentation of Julian Opies Eight Views of Japan (2007), a series of computer-generated Japanese landscapes based on countless photographs that the artist collected on his trips to Japan. The animations only have few actually moving elements such as a hardly perceptible mosquito swarm or airplanes crossing the night sky. Within the image area, Opie creates a small number of motifs, which are carefully balanced against the inanimate emptiness of the composition, riveting the viewers gaze and attention. The degree to which Opie was inspired in this series by the colourful style of 19th century Japanese art becomes, above all, clear in the triptych View of Lake Motosu and Mount Fuji from route 300 with its shades of blue, the complementary gradation of colour or the brilliant red cartouche.
Born 1958 in London, Julian Opie today is among the best known international contemporary artists. His laconic visual language is part of an ongoing search for new forms and media of artistic expression. Trying to overcome classical art forms and genres, his intent is to divorce the image from its carrier, making it reappear as a wall painting, sculpture, light-box, video, vinyl picture, or C-print.
Julian Opie received numerous awards, among them the 2001 Music Week CADS for best cover illustration for Best of Blur. He won international recognition with his steel objects shown at the documenta 8 (1987) in Kassel. Today his works are present in important international collections such as Tate Modern, London, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Kunsthaus Zurich.