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There isn't a shadow of a doubt that the digital universe has a life force all its own. Julian Opie proves this point, to the hilt; his groundbreaking paintings, videos and animation works materialized (what we commonly refer to now as) the 'avatar'. Block blacks lines, minimal shadows and solid colors were still able to communicate the bare essence of each subject, leaving viewers to fill in the infinite spaces between and beyond.

Born in 1958 in London, Opie became a graduate of the prestigious Goldsmith's School of Art during the emergence of the Young British Art (so-called 'YBA's' by patron Charles Saatchi) movement in the early 80's. Opie has completed special commissions of his signature work for the Japanese Galleries inside the British Museum (London), the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art (Connecticut), the ICA Boston and produced the cover art for British rock group Blur's eponymous album in 2002. His 'walking' figures, his practically featureless strippers, even his digitized landscapes all reflect a gap between what the technological world and what the organic world communicates. We associate the signage on a bathroom door to mean 'men' or 'ladies', but is that sign universal because of its anonymity? Its dullness? Its darkness? Clearly, Opie had hit upon a fundamental problem with how we reconcile 'universal' imagery and what it is meant to represent.

Public collections worldwide including Tate Britain, the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), MoMA, the Israel Museum and the National Portrait Gallery (London) have acquired (and continue acquiring) Opie's work since the early 1990's. No matter how much technology shifts and adapts, no matter how immune we become to signs and signals, and no matter how the contemporary art market treats its newest and oldest constituents, Opie is one of those creative pillars who never ceases to impress and inspire new aesthetic inquiry.

Julian Opie's solo exhibition at Valentina Bonomo in Rome opened on October 5th and runs until November 11th. The gallery is located in the heart of the Old Jewish Ghetto in Rome: Via Del Portico D'Ottavia 13, Roma, Italy. For more information, call +39 06 6832766 or visit

Next week's post will be hailing from the beautiful Tuscan village of San Gimignano, where we discover one of the world's most prestigious, hidden contemporary art treasures. Ciao!

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