Julian Opie at the Lisson Gallery

This was a very impressive show.

When I started the LondonEyeball I thought I would be perpetually slagging things off and raving about everything I didn’t like. But no.

I first came across Julian Opie in the 1980s, when he had just come out of the Royal College of art and had made slight brash, cartoony sculptures of cheque books (remember them?) falling in large piles. It was in the house of a wealthy collector. I struggled to decode the layers of irony,  and consequently was unable to digest the work.

Giant screen pixels reflected in the pavement








Well, one of us must have changed a bit because I really enjoyed this show. These pieces seem to be at once of our time and adding to the tradition of  representational art. He has worked hard to use the computer – to actually use it – within his work and not to just bolt it on. The quality of line in particular is definitely post-Adobe. Very different to what you would see in a Patrick Caulfield or even a Mondrian. The use of animation in some paintings is also very well done and the actual mounting of a screen on the wall as a picture seems natural to us now in a way that it could not have done even a few years ago. But just in the other gallery – there are mosaics! The analogy between the pixel and the mosaic tile is clearly irresistible, and yet still retaining enough wit to be beguiling.  And yet, there is still the same humour in the approach – mixing the personal and the impersonal, these faceless portraits endlessly defining themselves by their accoutrements.




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