Oklahoma Contemporary
Old Street August 10 (2020), Julian Opie
An artwork depicts six figures walking in different directions, rendered in simple but colorful line drawings

New Light

Sept. 28, 2020

#ArtistSpotlight: Julian Opie

British artist brings LED work to the Sculpture Garden at Oklahoma Contemporary
A man stares into the camera without smiling in a tightly cropped black-and-white image
Artist Julian Opie makes work inspired by the body in motion. (Source: ecc-collection.eu)

The best way to see something new is on your feet. That's part of what motivates internationally acclaimed artist Julian Opie, whose art is replete with figures in motion. Opie's Faime Walking (2016), a double-sided electronic sculpture featuring a simplified moving image of a walking figure, is the first artwork to land in Oklahoma Contemporary’s Sculpture Garden. 

Installed adjacent to the walkway leading to the main entrance of our new home, this larger-than-life LED monolith display reflects the movement of our visitors as they arrive and depart from the new arts center. Combined with the John F. Kennedy quote on the value of the arts in America inscribed along the walkway, Faime Walking (courtesy Larry Keigwin) reflects the sense of forward momentum central to Oklahoma Contemporary and the art communities in our ever-changing city.

That forward motion is a big part of what animates Opie's instantly recognizable work. "It’s when I move that I feel I see the world," he told Korean Vogue. "Since I am not concentrating on a screen or a book or my work, I am free to notice the world around me. I get most of my ideas when I am in motion, and many of my works are about this relationship between looking and moving."

An LED sculpture depicts a walking figure
Faime Walking (2016), Julian Opie. Courtesy of Larry Keigwin. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Using bold colors and distinctive lines, Opie creates works across media that distill people, animals, landscapes and objects to their most elemental forms. The influences of Pop Art and Japanese woodblock prints can be seen in the playful color palettes and simplified lines of his fun, iconic portraits of people in motion and at rest.

"I see an LED sign in an airport or a Roman mosaic in the British Museum, and the way the materials effect the representation seems strong and moving," Opie said in an interview with Elle Deco. "The way humans twist and mould the world to create images, to mirror the way that we see and interpret the world is what engages me."

Whether you walk, bike, drive or hitch a ride on the OKC Streetcar, drop by the new Oklahoma Contemporary to check out this one-of-a-kind sculpture by one of the world's most recognizable artists. Until then, learn more about Opie's work in this video from The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Melbourne.


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