Magazine article Artforum International

Julian Opie

Magazine article Artforum International

Julian Opie

Article excerpt

MONICA DE CARDENAS

It has been said that during the '80s young English sculptors - Julian Opie among them - abandoned the countryside and returned to the city. Rather than using, for example, the stones of Richard Long, this new generation of artists adopted the materials of everyday life and industrial production. Today, at least in Opie's case, one can say that the artist has again returned to the country. Two of the three wall paintings in this exhibition showed different types of natural landscapes, one mountainous with pine trees and snowy peaks, the other softer and more hilly - the typical image of the English countryside.

These landscapes seemed deliberately generic, and the brushstrokes that described trees, mountains, or hills appeared to have been quickly executed. The paintings also openly declared their relationship to computer graphics (Opie often uses a computer as an aid in creating them). Next to the landscape paintings, two sculptures denoted, with equally rudimentary features, a church and a small office building, the latter virtually reduced to a parallelepiped decorated with geometric patterns.

Opie's images - painted on the wall, sculpted, or created directly on the computer, and all defined through formal reduction - can at times hardly be distinguished from abstractions not taken from nature. This was also true of his earlier sculptures from the late '80s, which were meant to depict various objects but resembled instead Minimalist modules. His working process continues to be characterized by an emphasis on basic structures. …

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