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Ruth Smoking 2

Ruth Smoking 2
Signed Print

Julian Opie

Screenprint, 2006
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 121cm x W 85cm

Critical Review

Inspired by the woodblock prints of Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro, as well as early Renaissance painters such as Giovanni Bellini and Fra Angelico, Opie deliberately frames these images of Ruth as three-quarter length portraits to place his work in a historical, painterly context. In referencing classical poses through the medium of computer drawing programs and photography, Opie questions the nature of representation throughout art history.

Opie 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. The model in this work is fictionalised through the highly stylised rendering of the image and in the presentation of the portrait as a type, rather than as an individual. Working to depersonalise the portrait with his drastically pared-back style, Opie opens the subject to a multitude of interpretations from the viewer.