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Ruth Smoking 1

Ruth Smoking 1
Signed Print

Julian Opie

Screenprint, 2006
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 42cm x W 29cm

Critical Review

Opie’s portraits engage with longstanding ideas that have characterised this art historical genre by questioning what intrinsic elements are needed to convey a person’s character. Ruth Smoking 1 presents the viewer with the absolute minimum by which the subject can be recognised, with buttons for eyes, two lines for a mouth, and the image created with flat, block colours.

Ruth Smoking 1 is representative of Opie’s strong interest in Ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese woodblock prints from the 18th and 19th centuries that often depicted female beauties not meant for exhibition. Opie’s particular interest in Ukiyo-e artist Kitagawa Utamaro comes through in these portraits of Ruth, notably explaining that, "[Utamaro’s] models were radically cropped close up, the faces were very simply drawn, in some ways always very similar, but with great presence and individuality."