Opie against the Grain

Once radical in their challenge to religious and monarchical power, the assumptions undergirding the liberal humanist tradition—and its artwork—now feel
entrenched and flawed.

  • Walls, Windows and Blood was on view at Lehmann Maupin in New York City from February 8 through March 9.

  • harmony is fraught was on view at Regen Projects in Los Angeles from January 11 through March 3.

Two photographs. In the first, a pair of old, white brick walls converge at the center of the frame. Against their corner is a dry lawn, a narrow stretch of grass. Weeds grow across the bricks, their webbing stretched over what resembles a forlorn cannon. The long, narrow image follows the walls to their apex, where security cameras perch, peering at a road just out of view. They look like ancient ruins, a fortress from a forgotten war. The second photograph features the infrastructure of a portrait studio: Two ornately dressed figures, each wearing versions of papal garments, sit on top of scaffolding pilons. The frontmost figure wears a tufted, Victorian-era yellow dress and a pope’s miter. The photograph’s title names this figure Darryl; Darryl extends long, white acrylic nails toward the camera, face draped in piercings and jewel…

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