Julian Opie, Walking Portraits

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Julian Opie

2005

The works of acclaimed visual artist Julian Opie, Suzanne Walking in Skirt and Top and Julian Walking in T-Shirt and Shorts are two double-sided LED monoliths. Part of the New British Sculpture movement, Opie’s art has been exhibited throughout the world, including the Tate in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and the National Museum of Art, in Osaka, Japan.
Commenting on his oeuvre, Opie has said: “The process of reading things as simulations but knowing at the same time that they are real is quite central to my work.” This synthesis is apparent in the Suzanne monoliths, where highly stylized digitized images appear to walk continuously, animated portraits that interact seamlessly with passersby. Blending Pop Art and Minimalism, and ancient techniques, such as Egyptian hieroglyphs, with elements of modern advertising, Opie reformulates the vocabulary of daily life.
Despite the simplicity of these figures–created with amber LED lights and clean geometric forms against a black background–a wealth of inferences can be drawn. Suzanne in the skirt depicts an empowered woman, striding confidently and with purpose, while the more rounded shoulders and body lines of Suzanne in shorts convey an introspective sensibility. Distinct moods expressed with a mere play of lights.

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