Exhibition presents a series of animated political collages and landscape photographs by Catherine Opie

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Exhibition presents a series of animated political collages and landscape photographs by Catherine Opie
Installation view of Catherine Opie Rhetorical Landscapes at Regen Projects, Los Angeles
February 27 – May 2, 2020. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Regen Projects debuted a new body of work by Los Angeles-based artist Catherine Opie. Titled Rhetorical Landscapes, the exhibition presents a series of animated political collages and landscape photographs. This marks the artist’s tenth solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition is on view by appointment only.

For over thirty years, Catherine Opie has captured often overlooked aspects of contemporary American life and culture. One of the most important photographers of her generation, her photographic subjects have included early seminal portraits of the LGBTQ+ community, the architecture of Los Angeles' freeway system, mansions in Beverly Hills, Midwestern icehouses, high school football players, California surfers, and abstract landscapes of National Parks, among others.

Rhetorical Landscapes continues Opie’s examination of the current American political landscape and the moving image, a visual technology that she utilized in her first film, The Modernist. In the center of the gallery eight monitors form a closed circle. Life size in height and resembling oversized iPhones, each monitor features a screen that displays an animated film Opie calls “political collages.” Comprised of numerous magazine cuttings culled by Opie over the course of Trump’s reign, each collage represents themes articulated in the news cycle embodying contemporary political issues spanning topical subjects like nationalism, climate change, immigration, gun control, and the diminishment of natural resources. Arranged on hand-painted blue grids that reference modernism with their simplistic structural form, each animation develops over time, slowly building and integrating images until it forms a coherent collage. Although their subject matter communicates a sense of urgency, each collage is imbued with humor that references the political satire of Monty Python, whose films were a sense of inspiration for the artist.

Over the course of her career, Opie has traveled extensively across the American continent documenting its diverse communities of people and the landscapes they inhabit. Encircling the monitors, nine framed photographs are installed along the gallery walls. In juxtaposition to the digital worlds created in the political collages, this new series of photographs turns Opie’s camera to the verdant wilds of the American South, depicting a sort of pause and longing for this particular place in the American imagination. A play on words, the swamps evoke the political metaphor manipulated by Trump, yet they also remain one of the last undeveloped ecosystems facing the effects of climate change and human development. Opie’s swamps image the vulnerability of this contested land awaiting interference, presenting unadulterated views of seemingly uninhabitable terrain that are virtually devoid of human presence.

Catherine Opie was born in Sandusky, OH in 1961 and received her BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from California Institute of the Arts. She holds an endowed position in the department of art at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she has been a professor of photography since 2001.

Her work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions worldwide. Selected solo exhibitions include Keeping an Eye on the World, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo (2017); 700 Nimes Road, MOCA Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles (2016); Portraits, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016); Portraits and Landscapes, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2015); Empty and Full, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2011); Figure and Landscape, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2010); American Photographer, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2006); and Skyways and Icehouses, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002); among others.

Opie has received numerous awards, including the Smithsonian Archives of American Art Medal (2016); Julius Shulman Excellence in Photography Award (2013); Women’s Caucus for Art: President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009); United States Artists Fellowship (2006); Larry Aldrich Award (2004); Washington University Freund Fellowship (1999); and the Citibank Private Bank Emerging Artist Award (1997).

Work by the artist is included in the permanent collections of many museums worldwide, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; among others.

She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

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