|68 x 121 cm|
I first saw Julian Opie’s work at Tate Britain in 2000, at a landmark exhibition, INTELLIGENCE. The intention then was to have Triennials which would be a raw gathering of information from the art world, not a definitive report on what was going on. It was a brave new millennium in which artists recognised they now had unprecedented access to audiences compared with even 10 years before.
The catalogue remarked that in a theatre or concert hall, there’s a designated area in which we must sit, and a code of silence. But we take our public as well as our private life into an art gallery. In the open areas we can move around and mingle, each with our own unique scrutiny.
The Alan Cristea Gallery has created a perfect space for this to happen. The gallery walls are almost completely panelled in glass, said to reference the widespread architectural use of glass in public buildings, in particular Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5, A panorama of 75 prints laminated to the glass surround and enfold the viewer. They represent the sequential steps on a circular walk taken by Julian Opie in France on a harsh but beautiful winter's day. As well as referencing Dutch landscape painting, it does not live in the past - is it a version of Google Maps Street View?
The effect is overwhelming. The prints are from Opie's recent film, Winter 2012.Viewed together, you can explore the elegiac journey over and over again. But perhaps more importantly, Opie has captured and is playing back to us the essence of every country walk we have loved, not in spots famous for their beauty or exoticism, but on ordinary paths in ordinary weather – in Suffolk or Cornwall, Bedfordshire or Lincolnshire.
He partly achieves this by a process of elimination and distillation, which creates a meditative, contempltive depth. We know about stillness, how landscapes contest the ceaseless motion of nature. Here the trees are still and sculptural. No breeze chases the grass. No footsteps impress themselves on the muddy paths.Yet here is a reality which no 'realism' could match
|68 x 121 cm|
There is a flip book illustrating all the landscapes, allowing the reader to 're-animate' the circular walk. It's available from: