In his second solo exhibition at Lisson Gallery, Gander continues to explore layered systems of meaning through his simultaneously playful and deeply conceptual practice. In the broadest single display of his practice to-date, Opie employs the concise vernacular of modern media, depicting new subjects in previously unexplored mediums as well as self referentially developing ideas from his early works.
29 Bell Street
Lisson Gallery is proud to announce an exhibition of new work by Julian Opie. In the broadest single display of his practice to-date, Opie employs the concise vernacular of modern media, depicting new subjects in previously unexplored mediums as well as self referentially developing ideas from his early works.
Opie is an artist of international significance widely recognised for his distinctive contribution to contemporary art over the last three decades. His artistic preoccupation is the investigation into the idea of representation and the means by which images are perceived and understood. He reinterprets the vocabulary of everyday life, opening a discussion between the slick visual language of modern society and art history.
The exhibition includes a striking series of walking figures, which have increasingly become an important part of the artist’s practice. Simplified to the point of becoming human ‘logos’, walkers in vinyl are displayed in an extended line, recalling Egyptian friezes. In an intriguing and radical development for the artist, he has captured unknown passers-by from the streets of London rather than working with personally known subjects. The unwitting subjects reveal themselves in movement, captured in the moment, exhibiting their own idiosyncrasies in the way they carry themselves. Walking figures are also captured as still images on inlayed granite and stone.
Opie’s choice of medium is key in drawing attention to the physicality of his portraits. Two major new bodies of work mark a technical departure for Opie and juxtapose modern and classical sources. A group of mosaic portraits explore the relationship between sculpture and painting by emphasising the materiality of the imagery. This relationship is taken further in a series of painted busts on plinths in the same room, which beguilingly unite sculptural forms with flat imagery. The busts are the result of the artist’s use of three-dimensional scanning, a meticulous process that involves laser scanning the subject’s head from various angles. The resulting image has then been simplified, formed and dipped in resin, and then hand painted by Opie. Though created using cutting edge technology, the busts are also rooted in traditional sculpture dating back to the Roman period and beyond.
Opie’s interest in traditional portraiture, in painting and sculpture, is evident throughout the show, with subjects frequently adopting poses and props inspired chiefly by 17th and 18th Century English, Dutch and French portraits. The open book in the hand of one subject depicted in inkjet on canvas traditionally symbolises religious dedication whereas the type of material and how it is draped around other subjects in the same series, conveys their social standing and refinement.
Opie’s animations instil the fields of portraiture and landscape painting with a new sense of life and dynamism. A series of six digitally animated landscapes on LCD screens, complemented by an internal soundtrack of natural sounds, offer a window into the idyllic pastoral landscape of central France. While his landscapes are presented in a vertical format that calls to mind the Japanese landscape prints of Hiroshige, the medium is directly inspired by advertising and signage. In Daisies. (2012), a patch of flowers bob and sway in the breeze as insects buzz from flower to flower. Other screens capture similarly tranquil moments such as airplanes passing through the night sky, and a cloud of gnats hovering in the dusk sunlight (which make a re-appearance in an app that Opie has designed to accompany the exhibition).
The ambience and evocativeness of these scenes is echoed in the film, Winter. (2012), which invites the viewer on a journey through the beauty of a bleak winter day. Compiled of over seventy digital sketches, the film is accompanied by a specially commissioned score written by Paul Englishby (award winning composer for An Education and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), resulting in an immersive and cinematic experience that merges romanticism with contemporary style. This film is accompanied by three glass works which provide snapshots of the same landscape at different times of year.
A monumental double-sided LED sculpture of a galloping horse mounted on a plinth, rises above the walls of the gallery’s sculpture courtyard. The animation - high enough to be seen from the street outside the gallery - becomes part of public life like the equine monuments around London that it directly references. Opie has a number of public art works around the city, including Ruth walking in jeans. (2010) in Regent’s Place and 3 men walking. (2008) in the sculpture park at No 30 St Mary Axe “The Gherkin”. The latter will be joined by three of Opie’s sculptures from his Caterina dancing naked. series during the summer, coinciding with Opie’s exhibition at Lisson Gallery and a multiple panel installation at the maternity ward of St Mary’s Hospital.
The Fallout of Living
52-54 Bell Street
Lisson Gallery presents The Fallout of Living, a rich and entirely new body of work by Ryan Gander. In his second solo exhibition at Lisson Gallery, Gander continues to explore layered systems of meaning through his simultaneously playful and deeply conceptual practice.
The Fallout of Living sees Gander reach new levels as a masterful visual storyteller, while taking an introspective direction in his work. The title of the exhibition refers to the fallout from the moment in an artist’s life when, having become so fluent in visual language, their life and practice have become indistinguishable. This innate creativity infiltrates, and is inextricable from, all aspects of daily life, every decision (down to the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the placement of objects in your home) becomes creative and aesthetic.
I Is…(I) (2012) and Tell My Mother not to Worry (ii) (2012), both take inspiration from Gander’s daughter at play - an inherently creative process - first making a simple den and then pretending to be a ghost beneath a sheet. Replicated in marble, the sculptures capture fleeting moments in the creative development of a child and transform them into permanent monuments to artistic growth.
The idea of invisibility and being hidden - which is referenced in these two marble sculptures - recurs throughout the show. The viewer is eluded and obstructed at every turn. Constructed from a myriad of shiny objects, More really shiny things that don't mean anything (2012) blockades one room entirely, reflecting its surroundings in a futile attempt at camouflage. Meanwhile Kodak Courage (2012) playfully subverts the purpose of a display case by turning opaque as the viewer approaches, frustratingly censoring its contents.
The four transparent Plexiglas works entitled Associative Ghost Templates #2 - 5 (2012) simultaneously allude to both invisibility and loose associative methodology. The works are an extension of Gander’s earlier series of Associative Templates, in which the artist constructs a dialogue between seemingly unrelated objects. Here though, the objects have been negated. The viewer is called upon to identify the objects and the relationships between them through the empty spaces and accompanying description panels.
The process of loose association is a continuing concern in Gander’s work. The Way Things Collide (Condom, Meet USM Cabinet) (2012) exemplifies this working process, which extracts disparate objects from the monotony of daily life and forces an otherwise non-existing relationship. Gander describes a magic that forms in the space between the two elements that is formed in our imagination, as the human brain instinctively struggles to find an alliance between two seemingly incongruent items sculpted from one material.
The relationship between spectator and spectacle in The Fallout of Living is consistently reassessed by Gander. Aside from being called upon to discover obscure relationships, the viewer’s imagination, or even movement, is often essential to the work. This is the case with both Magnus Opus (2012) and Investigation #64 – Phenomenomenomenomenology (2012).
The former sees Gander add animatronics to his already expansive multimedia repertoire, which includes sculpture, architecture, design, lecturing, television scripts, children’s books, ceramics, curating, and writing. An oversized pair of cartoon eyes set in the gallery wall reacts to the viewer’s movements, turning the observer into the observed. The viewer’s inner nihilist is appealed to in Investigation #64 – Phenomenomenomenomenology. A set of toggle switches labeled ‘guns’ and ‘bombs’ tempt the spectator to convert the gallery into an apocalyptic control room from which to wage an invisible war.
Gander has already been the subject of several solo exhibitions this year in Napoli, Paris and San Francisco. Following his solo show at Lisson Gallery in London, Gander will also be the subject of an exhibition at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City from 18 August and a solo show in Paris at Palais de Tokyo from 27 September. In 2011 Gander presented a ground-breaking Artangel commission in London. Locked Room Scenario was an immersive group show of fictional artists in a Hoxton warehouse, which invited the viewer to adopt a detective’s mentality.
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Image: © Julian Opie Summer 68, 2012 Enamel on glass
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm
Location: 29 Bell Street, London, NW1 5BY
Tel: + 44(0)20 7724 2739
Ryan Gander, The Fallout of Living
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm
Location: 52-54 Bell Street, London, NW1 5DA
Tel: + 44(0)20 7724 2739