berlin classics:
reinterpretation of the visual appearance of city-space in context of the plattenbauten and of their ensembles

Collaboration of Julian Opie and Caroline Raspé, in context of the exhibitions of "Time Space Architecture" parallel to the UIA (Union International des Architectes) and the Dokumenta 2002 in Berlin. In cooperation with Gallery Barbara Thumm. open from June 05 to August 05 2002

Voices from the critics: Mark Prince at artforum.com

The urban panorama unraveling before you like a film: This tired phrase is revitalized by Julian Opie in the courtyards surrounding Barbara Thumm Gallery, where he has constructed a wraparound outdoor installation. His diagrammatic vinyl streetscapes manipulate a hand-me-down vocabulary of basic forms. Opie's earlier work turned on the ambiguity between Minimalist autonomy and functionality or signification; these pieces, however, pivot between total abstraction and total picture. Against the usual foil of a white-walled gallery, the vast surfaces and flat colors of the pictures tend to dissolve into the purity of the nonreferential, but in this textured setting the abstract/pictorial axis is a two-way street: The formulaic scenery comments on the recalcitrant Berlin architectural backdrop and vice versa. In the courtyard, fact and fiction blend and clash. One looks through swaying foliage at static tree signs; the road markings, like the sprocket holes on film, connect the pictures in pictorial terms, while the white corner pieces between the separate rectangles do the same sculpturally. As you walk from daylight into a dim passage and out again, the sequence switches from a sunlit highway to a nocturnal city to the half-light of a gas station at dusk. These contrasts are disquieting because the pictures stand for the inaccessibility of reality as much as they implicitly marvel at it. The mountains are ultramarine triangles, the sky a cyan square, but rather than being a modernist utopia, this is a vision of the homogenization of perception. The simplifications tacitly testify to complexity, to a world too dense to mentally accommodate. Nevertheless, I was later struck by the universality of the images despite their precisely judged limits. Suddenly, trains, tower blocks, and the passing traffic all look like fleshed-out components of an Opie picture.


Julian Opie

artist, born London 1958, living and working in London.
solo-exhibitions, selection:
2001: Lisson Gallery London, Ikon Gallery Birmingham, Wetterling Gallery Stockholm
2000: Julian Opie Recent Works, Junge Kunst e.V. Wolfsburg, Alan Christea Gallery London, Scai the Bathhouse Tokyo, outdoor project Autostadt/Stadt Wolfsburg
1999: Lenbachhaus Städtische Galerie München, Galerie Barbara Thumm Berlin, Barbara Krakow Gallery Boston, Bob van Oursow Zürich, Primo Piano Rome, Morrison & Judd London, Tensta Konsthall Stockholm

selection from the publication by Jovis Verlag:

The starting point of the project "Berlin Classics" was to show the multi-layered character of the city where nothing is homogeneous, where architectural styles clash. The backyard of the gallery also reflects this ecclectic mix so typical of Berlin. The backyard as a semi-public space with its strange sequence of volumes and shapes is dominantly defined by its function as a passage way. The unplanned geometry of the courtyard reveals that we look at a left-over space. Caroline Raspé suggested a spatial intervention which would enhance the peculiarity of the space. A horizontal sequence of picture planes runs from the entrance of the gallery through to the second court, thus taking on board the yard?s function

as a passage. The filmic character of these large-scale picture bands offers a pictorial ground which also reflects Julian Opie?s artistic approach. Like a film rolling in before your eyes it is with a sense of passage, of passing through that one perceives Julian Opie?s work. This film though is not one of a linear narrative, but is rather interrupted and shows images as if zapping through landscapes and cityscapes. This passing gaze does not distinguish or evaluate the various elements it sees. A petrol station, city buildings, suburban houses, churches, all are perceived as equivalent elements of a visual language and unfold a familiar grammar of contemporary environments in front of the viewer.

Rethinking: space time architecture

Rethinking: space time architecture
a dialogue between art and architecture
publisher: Staatliche Museen Berlin, BDA, Landesverband Berlin
idea and concept: Steffen Lehmann, Caroline Raspé
german / english
112 pages
with colored pictures
format: 19,5 cm x 29,5 cm
Euro 25.80 sFr 43.80
ISBN 3-931321-69-x


published by jovis verlag | category: bilingual books


Gallery Barbara Thumm Berlin