A text written by Julian Opie to accompany his 2016 solo exhibition at Gerhardsen Gerner, Berlin.
Step off the street into a representation of the same. A gallery full of passing people. Drawings of these passers by become extruded into statues, flattened onto paintings and mosaics, and shown in sequence to create films. Methods of drawing and of fabrication are also taken from the street, from the public, urban world. TV display panels, cut plastic panels and painted metal signs are all the language of the motorway and high street, places that are navigated, scanned, negotiated through eye and brain.
The crowd merges with the surroundings and itself becomes built of steel, plastic and diodes to reflect back what it feels like to look at and to be in the world and in the crowd. The same process that made drawings of bison and hunters in charcoal and ochre on cave walls, of marching warriors and striding gods carved onto palaces of desert rock and athletes drawn in quarried marble cubes on mosaic villa floors, can create images, statues, films of someone, anyone in materials and techniques that are borrowed from the same place and time. Of course, as in cooking, all these great ingredients don't necessarily ensure a good result, I play with the combinations and possibilities that surface.
A logic of taking in and putting out, of sensing existence by looking and then building with what you look at. No invention just arrangement, building, drawing.
The walking statues are drawings of people who passed my studio and were asked to come in and be model on a walking machine. They then become films that can then also become paintings and statues. The paintings on the wall are from commissioned photographs of people on the streets of Seoul; an initial full-length portrait is cropped to a head portrait seemingly drawn from too great a distance to see much more than posture, clothes and hairstyle.
Whilst filming London crowds I ended up with footage of joggers whose stride is rhythmic and easier to draw and whose movement seems more natural and animal despite their bright modern outfits.