Catherine Opie is preparing to open her latest collection of work, entitled “Twelve Miles To The Horizon” at the highly coveted Regen Projects. The exhibition will present a suite of new photographs that further the artist’s investigation into ideas of landscape. With the ocean as her backdrop, Opie explores the shifting mise en scène of light, color, movement, and the tension between boundaries and limitlessness.
In the summer of 2009, Opie traveled aboard a container ship en route from Korea to Long Beach. She documented the voyage in a series of time-based photographs that captured each sunrise and sunset for the ten-day duration of the trip. The works are composed with equal registers of water and sky, broken by a thin center horizon line. This is a format Opie also used in her iconic Icehouses (2001) and Surfers (2003) series. These segmented panoramic landscapes capture the point where sky and water meet. Articulated in the title of the exhibition, the twelve-mile distance between the artist and horizon evokes notions of time, place, solitude, elusiveness, and possibility. The deliberate framing of each work places the viewer in a precise physical reference point and moment in time. Evoking a formal classicism, these beautifully elegant and masterful compositions immerse and seduce the eye. There are subtleties that reveal in the nuances of the photographs – whisper of color, shimmer of waves, and glimpse of light. These painterly, poetic, and lyrical visions of blue, grey, black, orange, and yellow resonate with oblivion, the sublime, and the unknown.
Catherine Opie’s complex and diverse body of work is political, personal, and highly 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 a highly aestheticized oeuvre. Visual pleasure can always be found in her arresting and seductive photographs.
All of Opie’s work is characterized by a stillness and quietude; even the black-and-white photographs of urban views never depict the hustle and bustle of city life but rather create a preternaturally calm, symmetrical image. The 1999 landscapes, as well as the subsequent Icehouses and Surfers series, call to mind Romantic paintings such as Caspar David Friedrich’s Monk by the Sea (1809), in which a lone figure stands before the sublime vastness of an open ocean. In a discussion of Romantic aesthetics, literary critic Susan Stewart noted that philosophers ‘consider the phenomenon of the horizon, particularly the horizon as a kind of temporal hinge between immediate apprehension and a constant postponement of closure. . . . The very fact of the horizon is what is immutable; it is an infinite dividing line between infinite entities, a place toward which the mind journeys and yet a place that appears as a continuous, productive deferral of place.
(Jennifer Blessing. “Catherine Opie: American Photographer” in Catherine Opie: American Photographer, published by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2008, p. 23)
Catherine Opie’s 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 Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis; Photographers’ Gallery, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. An exhibition of Opie’s football, surfer, and landscape photographs will open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in July 2010.
CATHERINE OPIE: TWELVE MILES TO THE HORIZON
April 24 – May 22, 2010
Regen Projects II
9016 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069