Exhibition shows contemporary artist’s historic collecting habits

'Collected works / Collected works'

View of the installation of “collected works / collected works” by Julian Opie. Photo by Elizabeth Zeschin.

Located in a warehouse near Liverpool Street, the lower floors of the studio were filled with her art, but on the top floor she says ‘I’ve been transported back in time’.

The space was filled with his collection, from Egyptian sarcophagi to prehistoric axes to 17e and 18e portraits of the century. Although it was difficult to define his collectable style in a traditional sense, Binkin decided to combine the historical works he has amassed over the past two decades with some of his own pieces for his exhibition. Julian Opie: Collected works / Collected works.

'Collected works / Collected works'

View of the installation of “collected works / collected works” by Julian Opie. Photo by Elizabeth Zeschin.

“This is a chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of Opie’s artistic process,” Binkin said of the exhibit, which runs through March 6 at the Newlands House Gallery in Petworth.

Opie is known for his portraits (one of his best known works is the album cover of the band Britpop Blur The best of) and walking figures rendered in thick but clean lines.

The works on display in the exhibition reflect a clear interest in historical representations of the face and human form, “the way people rest on their hips, for example,” Binkin explains. “The slightest nuance can change the atmosphere of the painting”.

'Collected works / Collected works'

Installation view of Julian Opie’s Collected Works / Works Collected ‘. Photo by Elizabeth Zeschin.

Japanese prints, 19e century figures, African tribal artwork, and animated film stills may be of various origins, but all of them simply but distinctly reflect the human form. In some cases, however, his interests drift towards more ornate works, in cases such as the portraits of Joshua Reynolds and Nicholas de Largilliére.

'Collected works / Collected works'

View of the installation of “collected works / collected works” by Julian Opie. Photo by Elizabeth Zeschin.

As an artist, Opie’s collecting habits may differ from those of the average collector – some contemporary pieces he has obtained through barter, for example. For the most part, however, he buys through resellers, although he sometimes shifts his interests unexpectedly within the larger framework of his interests.

After 20 years of collecting, he still considers himself a “young collector”. But for Binkin, there is still a lot to be learned from this short buying period. With the show, she puts the mirror back on the artist, creating, as she calls it, “a portrait of Julian Opie”.

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