Julian Opie / People walking. Coloured 2008 / Light-emitting-diode (LED) (Barco), wall mounted / Purchased 2009 with funds from the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / Image courtesy: The artist and Lisson Gallery, London / © The artist

Julian OPIE
People walking. Coloured 2008

Not Currently on Display

People walking. Coloured 2008 belongs to an ongoing series of large-scale LED (light-emitting diode) works employing a high degree of abstraction and abbreviation to produce a figurative image. The technology used to display the work is similar to the large LED screens used for stadium televisions.

Opie has often employed commercial and industrial media in his artworks and his use of LEDs is motivated by the increasing prevalence of this technology in the public sphere – for applications from traffic lights through to public signage.

The figures in the work are depicted with an extremely restrained and limited amount of pictorial information; each is literally faceless and dressed in generic outfits suggestive of an affluent, contemporary Western city. Curiously, however, Opie has given very careful consideration to each figure’s gait and posture, giving them a highly individual and strangely life-like quality.

The flow of people across the screen has no discernible beginning or end, creating a hypnotic rhythm suggestive of the endless flow of people in contemporary cities. While the work is obviously presenting an artificial version of reality, it nonetheless feels very closely connected to actual human subjects.

Opie is renowned for his highly simplified visual language employed across a broad range of art forms including printmaking, sculpture, painting, installation and animation. He has also been active in the broader cultural sphere, especially via his collaborations with UK musicians Blur, St Etienne and U2 on album artwork and stage sets.