Julian Opie's winter landscapes fuse technology and tradition at Alan Christea

By Richard Moss | 01 March 2013
Exhibition preview:  Original Editions from Julian Opie’s Winter, Alan Christea Gallery, London, until March 16 2013
a digital painting in muted greys and greens of a country road with fields and trees
Winter 32 (2012)© Julian Opie. Courtesy the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery, London
David Hockney's iPad paintings may have highlighted the usefulness and versatility of technology when applied to landscape painting, but some artists, such as Julian Opie, have been wedded to new digital technologies in painting for quite some time.

His latest show at Alan Christea Gallery reveals the fruits of more than 15 years of digital experimentation with camera and computer in a series 75 of arresting landscapes which mix modern and classic sources.

An extension of the artist’s recent film, Winter (2012), the series of prints laminated onto Plexiglass, draw on an eclectic range of influences, from Google Maps Street View to 17th-Century Dutch landscape painting.

The works are the result of 75 sequential steps on a circular walk taken by the artist through the French countryside on a harsh but beautiful winter’s day. The muted pallete and minimal style seems a perfect foil for the stillness of French rural life.

Echoing the poetic ambience of his film, the exhibition is also accompanied by a specially commissioned score written by Paul Englishby (the award-winning composer for An Education and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), featuring vocals by the artist’s wife, Aniela Opie.

The Alan Christea Gallery walls have been almost completely panelled in glass for the exhibition, which offers a surrounding panorama. Part pastoral landscape, part slick architectural surface, it draws inspiration from the use of glass in public places - specifically, in this case, Heathrow Terminal 5.

Despite the technology, the radical methodology and the 21st century reference points, there is something rather retro about these prints. Like his 2012 computer animation, Evening Sun, these paintings recall the work of the poster artists employed by London Underground and other railway and transport companies from the Edwardian period through to the 1950s.

It would be interesting to see Opie use his technological explorations in painting to extol the virtues of taking the bus and Tube out to Kew, Epping Forest or Dollis Hill.

More pictures:

a digital painting in muted greys and greens of fields, tracks and a woodland
Winter 01 (2012)© Julian Opie. Courtesy the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery, London
a digital painting in muted greys and greens of a field and hedgerow
Winter 10 (2012)© Julian Opie. Courtesy the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery, London
a digital painting in muted greens, browns and greys of a trackway along a field
Winter 11 (2012)© Julian Opie. Courtesy the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery, London
a digitial painting in muted greens and greys of an empty road through a French village
Winter 39 (2012)© Julian Opie. Courtesy the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery, London
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