Julian Opie's name is evocative of starkly contoured figures and iconic portraiture, oft mimicked in the 1990s and Noughties. But the Wallpaper* Design Awards judge's latest opus is a subtle, pastoral departure from his usual MO.
This time he's taken inspiration not from the London streets or the cultural figures who have imbued his art with historic significance, but from a stroll through a bleak winter landscape in France. Where exactly in France we're unsure, but Opie leads us through his circuitous loop like an electronic street viewer: pivoting here and there to focus on the clear path ahead.
Opie captures each stage on the walk in a single digital print, coloured in a palette resembling army camouflage. The prints are laminated to a glass façade and presented in a grid on four walls of the Alan Cristea Gallery, in London's Mayfair. With 75 images in all, the viewer feels cocooned in that French landscape. The nose grows cold just contemplating the scene.
This 'Winter' series of all-new editions is a spin-off of Opie's recent computer-animated film of the same name, shown last summer at the Lisson Gallery. That film, a similar series of austere winter landscapes, has also made it into the current show and is on display in Cristea's adjacent gallery - next to a piece by Michael Craig-Martin, a mentor and former instructor of Opie's at Goldsmith's College.
The film's score by Paul Englishby, with vocals by Opie's wife Aniela, is piped into both galleries for the length of the show.