May 28, 2024


Despite the on and off rain showers Lisson gallery saw no decline in numbers at the Julian Opie opening. The exhibition presented a return to the artist’s famous walking figures, a number of animations on led screens, and an exploration of new methods of production.

Upon entering you were greeted by women in fabulous dresses (they were hanging on the wall but there were some real ones walking around as well) in rather traditional poses with still-lifes framing their figures. Despite the fact that Opie’s imagery is built on simple vectors (object oriented graphics that use geometrical formular and have a flat visual efffect) the inclusion of clothing, jewellery, hair styles, and props make each portrait feel different as these elements become signifiers of the sitters personality.

Julian Opie, At church with Felicia., 2011 Inkjet on canvas with brass frame

© Julian Opie and Lisson Gallery

The following room showcased animations on LED screens; this was probably my favourite part of the exhibition although I couldn’t really hear the sound background of the works since everyone was chatting away (an opening that is not noisy probably hasn’t been that successful). All works had a nature theme: (very South of France in my mind) bees, daisies, stars against low mountain landscapes. Opie has a very interesting technique for these animations: the background remains still while elements of the foreground are moving thus making you focus on them independently rather than viewing the animation as a whole. I would have loved to have an idea of what there were going for but obviously prices were never to be seen..

Julian Opie, Apple tree., 2012 Continuous computer animation on 55 LCD screen

© Julian Opie and Lisson Gallery

We moved onto the outside space where everyone was drinking and smoking away while quizzically peering at the two LED animations sculptures: one of a horse and one of a little boy peeing. A few drops started landing on our heads and we found ourselves under the drinks tent smashed in between collectors and the artist who was discussing with friends.

Julian Opie, Galloping horse.,  2012 LED double sided monolith

© Julian Opie and Lisson Gallery

The end room of the gallery was probably the most impressive one as it displayed a variety of works that played on themes of traditionalism and the avant-garde. Some of the works were mosaics, some looked as if they were carved out on marble blocks and others like Egyptian friezes. The continuous juxtaposition of ancient methods and contemporary sign imagery gave birth to a coherent effect. This should not be surprising as at least with Egyptian friezes figures were reduced to simple lines and angles with a focus on the use of colour. In the same room we saw a series of traditional busts but with a very contemporary twist as they were created using 3D scanners. I must admit I was more impressed by the use of technique rather than the actual physical presence of the works, which is quite frail (but to be honest this technology is quite new so I am sure in years to come it will have a different effect). Downstairs saw some more animations fusing together different stills and some landscape vector paintings.

Julian Opie,  Installation view, Lisson Gallery, London 2012

©Julian Opie  and Lisson Gallery

Julian Opie, Daniel., 2012 Paint on resin (corian base)

© Julian Opie and Lisson Gallery

After having a brief look at the Ryan Gardner exhibition in the other Lisson space we swiftly left and I was pretty happy that we had ventured out despite the rain for the Opie opening.  From a curatorial point of view the exhibition was a great success as even though most of the works were very recent the choice of artworks managed to relate and expose most aspects of Julian Opie’s imagery and themes (not to mention that there was no reference to the Olympics, which to be honest has become quite tiring!).


Eleni Markopoulioti

Julian Opie, Lisson Gallery, 29 Bel Street, July 11 – August 28.

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