Julian Opie Old Street Walker: Turn Ups., 2022 is an unassuming work of sheer elegance in its simplicity. Pulling inspiration from a range of genres and time periods, Opie employs the minimal, yet bold black line drawings that are reminiscent of cave paintings, classical portraiture, Japanese woodblock prints, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and traffic signs, while simultaneously recognizing the aesthetic appeal of blending contemporary symbols and emojis. In Old Street Walkers: Turn Ups, thick brown lines depict a man in a backwards cap, walking from the right to left. His hands disappear into the thick pockets of his jacket, his pants cut at the ankles, allowing the viewer to see the movement of the random passerby. Using simplified shapes to convey motion and depth, Opie invites the viewer into the work as a voyeur, not limiting ourselves to the physical plane.
From the sides, the walking people reveal their shapes and their dignity – they are not posing or addressing the viewer and instead are just passing by, their lives as enigmatic as the walker appears to be. Taking advantage of lenticular printing, a medium that utilizes the 19th-century invention of lenticular lenses, to produce the illusion of depth and movement. Situated behind the lenses are at least two or more related images divided into thin vertical strips, with each group of strips presenting a frame of animation. Each of Opie’s lenticular acrylic panels include approximately twenty images that appear to transform into one another to generate a figure walking endlessly on a loop. Thus, when a viewer walks past these works of art, their movement is mimicked in the print.
Seeking a way to encapsulate the human form, Opie lands on the simplified imagery used to differentiate between male and female restrooms; a symbol that no doubt maintains the same meaning regardless of orientation, a standardized representation of the human figure. Opie’s figures are a combination of family, friends, anonymous passersby and conjured up personalities. Though the basic form for each figure is essentially the same, Opie maintains “a sense of individuality with the multiplicity” by providing the characters with names, outfits, and individual movement. Much of Opie’s work is reliant on the engagement of the viewer, who must activate the work through their movement in the space and watch as the image transforms before their eyes.
Created in 2022, Julian Opie Old Street Walker: Turn Ups., 2022 is a lenticular acrylic panel mounted onto white acrylic that is hand-signed by Julian Opie (London, 1958 - ) in ink on verso and is numbered from the edition of 50 in ink on verso.
Catalogue Raisonné & COA:
Julian Opie Old Street Walker: Turn Ups., 2022 is fully documented and referenced in the below catalogue raisonnés and texts (copies will be enclosed as added documentation with the invoices that will accompany the sale of the work).