Julian is a digital print from 2013 that is one of the few self-portraits by artist Julian Opie. Showing a close up portrait of the artist, this print uses elements of realism, unusual to Opie’s typical style, retaining details like tonal contours on the face and hair. This portrait is set against a bright green backdrop.
Opie creates this print through the visual language of classical portraiture, producing a simple composition with the subject centred in the image and facing outwards. Synthesising historic modes of portraiture composition with distinctly modern and concise abstracted forms, Opie produces a unique and eye-catching image. Curator at the National Portrait Gallery Catherine MacLeod has remarked, ‘Julian Opie’s work references historical portraiture, and has often used compositional devices employed by seventeenth-century artists.’
Unusual for Opie’s work, this image shows the sitter intently looking at the viewer, his eyes rendered in a detailed style that catches the viewers’ attention. The closely cut composition further emphasises the intensity of the sitter’s stare. Rendered in Opie’s highly recognisable style, Julian works a form of self-promotion, as with many self-portraits in the art historical tradition and is rare in its depiction of the artist himself.