Julian Opie (b. 1958) lives and works in London. Between 1979 and 1982 he studied at the Goldsmith's School of Art in London.
“Everything you see is trick of the light. Light bouncing into your eye, light casting shadows, creating depth, shapes, colors. Remove the light and it’s all gone. We use vision as a means of survival and it’s essential to take it for granted in order to function, but awareness allows us to look at looking and by extension look at ourselves and be aware of our presence. Drawing, drawing out the way that process feels and works brings the awareness into the present and into the real world, the exterior world. By drawing I have made a thing, lots of things which are nothing really, useless, but I can show them and look at them and get other people to look at them and see if it can do the same for them. Artworks are like little experiments designed to bring out, mimic, reveal what is already there but hard to hold. There are standard ways of doing this but blundering around trying to invent new versions makes it fresh and relevant. I set up projects, experiments, based on previous successes that I feel could be better or go further. Some observation or variation suggests to me that I could make a new work. I vaguely sense a possibility and need to build a model to test it out. I gather resources and in the process of building I rely on trial and error and instinct to squeeze success out of the elements. Things often don’t go to plan and I’m forced to side step or back down in order to get it to work. It’s nearly always an “only just” situation, a last-second hop from failure to success and even then I have my doubts but if I enjoy the work and want to show it to people I feel it’s probably good to go.
—Julian Opie, 2015 (excerpt from “Julian Opie: The Complete Editions Volume 2: 2012-2015”, Alan Cristea Gallery, 2015)
The work of Julian Opie is known throughout the world. With public commissions from New York to Seoul, London to Zurich, and an uninterrupted flow of international museum exhibitions, Opie’s distinctive formal language is instantly recognizable and reflects his artistic preoccupation with the idea of representation and the means by which images are perceived and understood. “Everything you see is a trick of the light,” Opie writes. “Light bouncing into your eye, light casting shadows, creating depth, shapes, colors. Turn off the light and it’s all gone. We use vision as a means of survival and it’s essential to take it for granted in order to function, but awareness allows us to look at looking and by extension look at ourselves and be aware of our presence. Drawing, drawing out the way that process feels and works brings the awareness into the present and into the real world, the exterior world.” Always exploring different techniques both cutting edge and ancient, Opie plays with ways of seeing through reinterpreting the vocabulary of everyday life; his reductive style evokes both a visual and spatial experience of the world around us. Drawing influence from classical portraiture, Egyptian hieroglyphs and Japanese woodblock prints, as well as public signage, information boards, and traffic signs, the artist connects the clean visual language of modern life, with the fundamentals of art history.