UCCA Beijing

Geof Oppenheimer: People in Reverse


Geof Oppenheimer, The Businessman, 2019-2020, studio model (production), 53.4 x 48 x 48 cm.


Location:  Central Gallery & New Gallery

For more than twenty years, artist Geof Oppenheimer has utilized mediums including sculpture, video, drawing, and photography to analyze not only how we relate to one another, but also how these personal relations intersect with broader social and economic issues. “People in Reverse” is Oppenheimer’s first solo exhibition in China and features new work commissioned by UCCA. It centers on cast statues of three archetypal figures—the businessman, the flag bearer, and the observer—situated within an immersive spatial context formed out of walls, floor coverings, raw materials, and mass-produced products. These sculptures and their environment speak to the growing concerns over symbolism, figuration, and character in the modern social economy. The exhibition foregrounds the artist’s use of the body as a medium to convey contemporary conditions, underscoring how the visual arts can transmit feelings that are, by their very nature, overpowering and ineffable. A publication designed by the artist and David Giordano will serve as an essential component of the exhibition, featuring commissioned essays by the art historian David Getsy, dramaturge Zhao Chuan, and UCCA Director Philip Tinari.


About the Artist 

In his art, Geof Oppenheimer (b. 1973, Washington D.C., lives and works in Chicago) takes up questions of civic value: the ways in which political and social structures are encoded in images and objects, and how meaning is formed in the modern world. Starting from the proposition that formal value is a social value, his projects interrogate the forms and rules of civic discourse as a material, positing art as a space of liberated social dialogue. Trained as a sculptor, Oppenheimer works across multiple mediums, including stage-set video productions and photography. He is an associate professor of practice in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at a variety of venues, such as the CRP, Paris; Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Evanston; MoMA PS1, New York; The Contemporary Museum, Baltimore; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; SITE Santa Fe; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Aspen Art Museum; 4th Athens Biennale; and CAB Art Center, Brussels. His work has been the subject of published writings in Art in America, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and The New Yorker.