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Critical Review

Consisting of nine prints, Julian Opie’s Cornish Cost series shows a set of beautiful images of the coast in Cornwall. Six of these images are depicted in Opie’s highly simplified style, with block colours and simplified shapes, whilst a further four use the same images to depict the scenes in slightly more detail and colour.

Created using computer drawing programmes to manipulate digital photographs, these prints are inspired by holidays taken by the artist to Cornwall. Much of Opie’s work has been compared to the digitally rendered landscapes of video games in the way that they mimic a simultaneously familiar yet otherworldly sphere. Indeed, this print is uncanny in the sense of familiarity it strikes within the viewer, in part due to Opie’s depersonalised, slick style rendered through computer technology.

Speaking of his interest in producing landscape prints of Cornwall, Opie has said: “I think we use picturing all the time in order to navigate and interact and it’s how I know I am present. By putting that picture back out into the world, on the cave wall or website or gallery, I can extend, record and play with what I see. By looking at that picture there is a doubling up of the process, a view of a view.”

The Cornish Coast series is indicative of Opie’s desire to utilise new computer technology and photography to create a simplified and instantly recognisable image. In using saturated block colours and a limited palette of only four or five tones, Opie produces an aesthetically pleasing image when viewed at any distance. Opie’s prints such as those in the Cornish Coast series, use a highly recognisable and replicable style whereby the artist can make many versions of the same or similar subjects. Mimicking the visual language of commercialism, Opie demonstrates his ability to form a brand that is widely recognised whilst engaging with fine art.