GROUND LEVEL, NATURE STRIP ON ST KILDA ROAD
ENGLAND, BORN 1958
LIVES AND WORKS IN LONDON
Julian Opie’s work for NGV Triennial connects the clean visual language of modern life with the fundamentals of art history. It is a work influenced by classical portraiture, Egyptian hieroglyphs and Japanese woodblock prints, as well as public signage, information boards and traffic signs. Commissioned by the City of Melbourne and the NGV to create a new permanent installation in the public sphere out front of the gallery, Opie is adorning more than 20 LED screens with a variety of animated birds – depicted one per screen in the artist’s unique style. The birds, unperturbed by the passing traffic, appear to be grazing on the nature strips that separate the lanes of St Kilda Road. In addition to this work being an extension of Opie’s own NGV Garden project of 2018, the installation is also connected to the NGV’s Collection of ancient Egyptian art. Julian Opie says: ‘By turning their surrounding nature of people and animals into a readable and common language, the Egyptians created a vocabulary out of life, a way of reading the world and of recognising both our engagement in the world but also our distance from it; the interpretive nature of being.’
Julian Opie is a sculptor, painter, printmaker and installation artist. Between 1972 and 1982 he attended Goldsmiths College where he studied under Michael Craig-Martin. During the early 1980s Opie became associated with a generation of sculptors known as New British Sculpture, a group that included artists Anish Kapoor, Rachel Whiteread, Richard Wentworth and Tony Cragg. In recent years he has received major commissions for murals for public spaces and buildings, including Lindo Wing, St Mary’s Hospital, London (2012) and Central Station, Milan (2003). In 1995 Opie was awarded the Sargent Fellowship at the British School in Rome and the Spanish Art Critics Association (AECA) Award, ARCOmadrid, in 2015. Opie was part of the 1998 Sydney Biennale and the subject of a solo retrospective exhibition at NGV International in 2018.