CO DURHAM.- The Bowes Museum
continues to advance its burgeoning contemporary exhibition programme with the opening of Julian Opie: Collected Works.
One of the UKs leading contemporary artists, Opie exploded onto the British art scene in the 1980s; his easily recognisable style characterised by minimalist line portraits and animated walking figures.
Throughout his own prolific career Opie has amassed art from the past including 17th and 18th century British portraiture by artists such as Joshua Reynolds and George Romney, together with Egyptian sculpture from the ancient world. This exhibition showcases his own works alongside pieces from his private collection, examining the relationship between the two.
Such juxtaposition is revealing in many ways, in particular throwing light on the inspiration for Opies practise as an artist, but also in revealing the complexity within the nature of portraiture: what it means, how it is achieved and how its changed throughout the history of art.
Works in a variety of media are on display including paintings, prints, LEDs and video as well as more recent experiments in mosaic and sculpture, shown together with pieces ranging from an ancient Egyptian funerary mask to an arresting warts and all Houdon bust of 18th century composer Cristoph Gluck complete with smallpox scarring.
Opie has exhibited extensively around the world during the past 30 years and now for the first time we have an opportunity to see his work within the context of his collection, offering a fascinating insight into his oeuvre and his collecting instinct. His work also forms part of the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate in London, and New Yorks Museum of Modern Art, MoMa. He has also completed public commissions in major cities around the globe.