Kris Julian Opie
Find out more about Julian Opie’s ‘Kris’ series, browse prints & editions for sale & view the works wanted by active buyers right now.
Julian Opie has produced a number of works based on the model Kris in a variety of mediums, typical of the artists full-length figurative style and each piece showing the figure walking.
Throughout his career, Opie has made many images of people walking in the form of static prints, paintings, sculpture, and moving images. Using photographs taken by the artist, each print is then manipulated and reduced to a matter of simplified shapes and signs to represent a figure. Creating anonymous ‘passers-by’ with which to populate his world, Opie’s figures are not devoid of personality thus maintaining a sense of individuality within multiplicity.
Opie’s representations of Kris show the figure in a white t-shirt, blue trousers and long dark hair set against a flat green backdrop. Much like many of the artist’s walking figures, Kris is rendered anonymous through the use of a blank circle as a head that floats above his shoulders. These images are produced in Opie’s sign-like visual language that utilises bold line, block colour and simplified shapes that rapidly convey visual information with intensity.
The figure in Kris Walking from 2011 is defined by his long hair, clothing and stance, working in a way that reduces the figure to a ‘type’, prompting the viewer to think about how we relate to and resemble one another. The utilitarian quality that characterises Opie’s visual language, creating a system of signs that point to categories of people, Opie asks the viewer whether we are all reducible to predetermined ‘types.’
Of this, Opie has stated that, ‘I think the whole notion we carry of people as examples of types is very interesting… There are some key famous people who become these types and I want to extend that really so that everybody is a type if you draw them in the way that I do.’
Why is the Kris series important?
Opie’s various depictions of Kris are indicative of his interest in using computer technology as a key component to his work, producing moving images through film and lenticular printing. Interested in movement as means to differentiate between people, Opie uses this as a way to strike the balance between stylisation and realism in his works. Depicting the act of walking perfectly suits Opie’s desire to animate his images as this form of movement is universally simple and familiar to the viewer. The movement in Opie’s Kris works appear far more realistic than expected, despite the fact that the figure’s form is highly stylised and so movement itself is presented as a form of realism.
Speaking about injecting movement into his works Opie has said, ‘The actual movement turned out to be much more realistic than I expected. There's nothing realistic about the image, but that doesn't matter, and, if anything, it heightens the sense that the movement is realistic.’
Kris Walking (2011) is especially important in its use of lenticular technology that moves as the viewer moves. By depicting Kris walking, the viewer literally walks with the figure in the image and immediately a bodily relation is established between viewer and sitter. As a result, the viewer becomes more conscious of their body and the way that they move, and in turn the viewer becomes more aware of how we see people who walk past us in the street.
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