Published  18/03/2001

Julian Opie at Lisson Gallery, Michael Landy at C&A


   This artist has evolved a personal, formal language , minimalist, yet figurative, which is wholly his own. There is a curious affinity with the semantic figures which adorn road crossing signs, or indicate the gender and location of public toilet facilities.

   The current nudes are a case in point, painted onto building blocks, they remain firmly two dimensional. Opie’s work takes Warhol’s aesthetic flip to new extremes., also of pricing up., at 30,000 upwards. What makes the stick figures and road language interesting is the way in which the mandatory element in such signing, when confronted in open space, that is, is deliberately subverted. Since this fulfils a traditional imperative for the artist in relation to social convention, Opie is to be congratulated for the direction he has taken in this idiom, and the mood which he has sustained. There is something too, of a gestural message against overweaning bureaucracy. Opie’s figures, seemingly divested of any special facial characteristics, yet remain a differentiated species all the same.

MICHAEL LANDY at C&A, is an artist of the same generation, who has chosen to go beyond signification to termination, the final destruction of his own work. It was possible to go straight from Opie’s show at the Lisson Gallery (careful crossing the Euston Road) and so down to Oxford Street, to observe Landy liquidating his total personal possessions, through his SAAB, his knick knacks, personalia, the shirt off his back, down to his underpants. This is a day by day process, shortly and inevitable to run to a close – so it would be logical to shred these too on the last day, rather than keep laundering on.

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