Opening Reception: Saturday, February 23, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Regen Projects is pleased to announce an exhibition of new portraits and landscapes by Catherine Opie.
These photographs mark both a progression and a departure for the artist. Opieʼs work has always investigated
the figure in relation to the landscape, disregarding the polarities typically found within these approaches. This
new body of work draws upon Opieʼs beginnings in documentary photography, the traditions of painting, and
the history of photography.
Opieʼs new portraits evoke the sublime and the inner psychological space of both the viewer and subject.
Utilizing techniques of chiaroscuro, color, and formal composition found in classical 17th century portraiture,
Opie arranges her subjects in allegorical poses that suggest an emotional state. Evoking formal classicism,
these beautifully elegant and technically masterful compositions immerse and seduce the eye. Opieʼs subjects
have always been part of her personal community, and the range of individuals in these new works illustrates
how this community has shifted and expanded.
Catherine Opieʼs work is deeply rooted in the history of photography. The new landscapes draw upon this
trajectory – both contemporary and historical. In addition to utilizing motifs that informed the California
Pictorialists, these works reference the painterly tradition. Images of iconic landscapes float in abstraction and
are reduced to elementary blurred light drawings. The viewer no longer relies on traditional markers of
recognition of place, but instead on the visceral reaction to the sensate images Opie captures. These painterly,
poetic, and lyrical visions resonate with oblivion, the sublime, and the unknown.
Catherine Opieʼs complex and diverse body of work is political, personal, and high aesthetic – the formal,
conceptual, and documentary are always at play. Her work consistently engages in formal issues and maintains
a formal rigor and technical mastery that underscores an aestheticized oeuvre. Visual pleasure can always be
found in her arresting and seductive images.
Opie very knowingly engages art-historical conventions of representation like this in order to seduce her
viewers: “I have to be interested in art history since so much of my work is related to painting and
photography history. It gives me the ability to use a very familiar language that people understand when
looking at my work and seduce the viewer into considering work that they might not normally want to look
at. It is very classical and formal in so many ways…. In a way, it is elegant in the seduction I was talking
about earlier, that this device really can draw the viewer in through the perfection of the image. It is like
wearing armor for a battle in a way, the battle for people to look into themselves for the prejudices that
keep them from having an open mind.”
Catherine Opieʼs work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe.
In 2008 she had a mid-career survey at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Additionally she
has had solo exhibitions at the Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach; Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston;
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Saint Louis Art
Museum, St. Louis; Photographersʼ Gallery, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Museum
of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
An opening reception for Catherine Opie will take place on Saturday, February 23rd from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. For
further information please contact Jennifer Loh, Heather Harmon, or Donna Chu at the gallery.
(Jennifer Blessing. “Catherine Opie: American Photographer” in Catherine Opie: American
Photographer, published by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2008, p. 14)