11 May 2014

Something to ponder

Flipping through an art magazine over breakfast (as you do...) I started to read an article by Julian Opie, an artist I've never given a second glance. He's put together an exhibition of his art collection together with his own works, and the conjunction of portraits from the 17th and 18th century with his own sculptures and "graphic" works is ... interesting ...

But the sentence that most struck me was this:

"I make whatever seems suddenly possible with the tools I have to hand, tools of understanding as much as techniques of making."

It needs unpicking ...


  • the tools I have to hand - Opie works in paint, print, sculpture; his materials include LCD screens
  • suddenly possible - ah, the spark of insight!
  • tools of understanding - knowing about how the work fits into the world, not just the current world but in history
  • techniques of making - the choice of technique and the skill in its use


Of these, the "sudden possibility" struck me the most - haven't you had that wonderful moment when (usually after researching and pondering) the work to be made suddenly appears, in a few seconds -- you know what it will be (all the won't-be aspects have been discarded), but you don't know what it will look like or how it will happen...  Those (rare) moments are wonderful moments, the best there is.

Aniela bathing 4, 2013. Enamel on marble, 95 x 95 cm

The exhibition, 'Julian Opie Collected Works',  is at The Holburne Museum, Bath, 22 May to 14 September;, and Bowes Museum, Durham, 4 October to January 2015.

The article was published in Art Quarterly, Spring 2014; a draft is at julianopie.com. I've written about it ("When artists become collectors") for Ragged Cloth Cafe, but it's not available just yet, sorry!

1 comment:

Connie Rose said...

I just learned yesterday that the art of using what's to hand is called bricolage. I'm reading another fab book on the creative process, called Free Play, by Stephen Nachmanovitch. I think you would like it, being another introspective self-analytical sort like myself.