Red White Black Yellow is a lenticular print from Julian Opie’s Standing People series from 2020 that shows four full-length figures in casual poses. As with many of Opie’s depictions of people, each figure is rendered faceless with a blank circle as a head. Despite this, these people are uniquely distinguishable due to Opie’s attention to detail with clothing and each person’s stance or gate.
Red White Black Yellow shows each figure in a different monotone colour as indicated by the print’s title and set against a plain blue backdrop. Speaking of his depictions of people from photographs taken in public, Opie has said, “Each figure throws up surprises and opportunities that I could not invent – a tattoo or a tasselled dress, a goatee or the logo on a T-shirt.”
Captured in the artist’s structured and graphic visual language, Red White Black Yellow encapsulates contemporary city life in a way that makes the viewer think about their own body in relation to the compelling image. Opie rationalises the human form in a decidedly stylised manner, striking a balance between the soft and human, and the hard and artificial, producing an uncanny effect. Undertaking a task that has preoccupied artists for generations, Opie captures modern life in an entirely unique way.