Maria Teresa with red shawl

© Julian Opie, courtesy MAHO KUBOTA GALLERY

Julian Opie
Maria Teresa with red shawl
Acrylic in aluminum frame
147.8 x 108.8 cm

Julian Opie is a British artist of the British New Sculpture Movement in the 80s who graduated from Goldsmiths University, London. Influenced by Japanese Ukiyoe painting and Manga, his work has been exhibited internationally.

The woman in the splendid white dress,jewels covered with the red shawl stands still and looks at a viewer. She also holds the pink rose in her hand. While depicted in a traditional portrait matter, her face and body are flat, drawn only with simple points and lines; her emotion seems emptied.

The vivid colour and graphics created by computer techniques makes the work as if an advertisement. However confidence seen from what she wears and how she stands does not much with her melancholic facial expression. The contrast between aesthetic/traditions and emotions becomes a catalyst of critical discussions on identity and social stereotypes.

Maria, indicated in the title, also appears in the artist’s other work as different charactors like a striper. However seen in this work, it is unusual that she dresses so historically and opulently.

As of the minimised facial features she looks rather like a code or symbol, waiting for a viewer to give her individuality and define who she is. The viewer interprets with their own imagination, blurring separation between the image and viewer. In such way what divides one from other becomes ambiguous.

(Commentary & Translation: Asako Ujita)