Sheep is by Julian Opie from 2015 that features the artist’s signature linear style, depicting two sheep grazing. Depicted with black line against a plain white backdrop, this is a simple and idyllic subject, indicative of Opie’s desire to represent the mundanities of everyday life.
The quiet and natural motif of grazing sheep contrasts with the rigidity of the artist’s graphic style to create a composition that displays a tension between graphic design and fine art. Opie abstracts the subject by offering no contextual backdrop to the viewer, as the sheep are seen eating grass that is not depicted. This is indicative of Opie’s interest in creating a visual language formed of highly recognisable signs. Indeed, this work is reminiscent of Opie’s Escaped Animals 2002 that was a series of thirteen manufactured road signs depicting animals.
The sign-like quality of the work is further emphasised by Opie’s depersonalised visual language rendered through computer-drawing programmes that seemingly remove the artist’s touch. As a computer-generated image, rendered in such a way that the motif can be repeated many times over, the viewer is forced to think about how we look at images of everyday life.