MAHO KUBOTA GALLERY presents a solo exhibition of new works by Julian Opie, opening on October 21, 2022. The show features eight paintings and five video works with dance as their theme.
Before the dawn of civilization, prehistoric humans may have developed dance as a means of communication prior to acquiring language. Physical expression through dance, in which people keep time with a rhythm by swinging, swaying and shaking the body, was a perfectly natural form of movement for connecting the individual with the community. The sense of unity and exultation created by simple rhythmic movement is a compelling experience that continues to make dance appealing today.
Julian Opie is known for clear-cut works that encapsulate scenes from our times by featuring the actions of people in contemporary society, such as walking, posing, running, or pole dancing. In addition to portraying life in modern times, these actions are innate universal behavior that connects us to our past. Using material that is accessible to people today, the human movements in Opie’s works demonstrate the presence of life, something that people have been expressing in painting and sculpture since ancient times.
The pole dancers who were the subject of earlier works by the artist performed carefully honed dances with a distinctive purpose and style. In contrast, the male and female dancers that Opie depicts this time in paintings and on LED screens appear to be employing a dance with new rules that is currently still evolving. The Shuffle is a dance that has become a big trend on TikTok as a group dance, typically involving dancers repeating the same steps at a very fast pace while staying in sync with each other. As you watch the movements of the dance on Opie’s two-dimensional LED screen, they begin to look just like the movements of a living person. As with his earlier works, the fine detail in the movement allows the viewer to glean the personalities of the models, as well as their attitudes, ways of living life, and unique vibes, suddenly turning the individuals into a coherent and lively group that depicts and represents our existence today on the planet where we spend our lives. Together, the works also become a landscape that portrays our times.