Unmissable event: “JR: Chronicles” at the Saatchi Gallery!

JR Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London Blog

There are few contemporary artists I really admire and whose exhibitions really mark me to the point I often think about them months (sometimes years) after I visited them. David Hockney in 2017, Martin Parr in 2019, Banksy and Yayoi Kusama in 2021 offered me some of the best artistic experiences since I arrived in London seven years ago.
Also, before summer, I spent a couple of hours exploring another great retrospective: “JR Chronicles” at the Saatchi Gallery, which presents many of JR’s creations and depicts the way he thinks about the role of art in society.
Today, DOYOUSPEAKLONDON invites you to dive into JR’s artistic eyes!
Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London Blog

JR, Photograffeur

JR, a French renowned artist, is also called “Photograffeur”  (a pun on the words “photographer” and “graffiti artist, graffeur” in french) because he uses photography as main media in his art and paste his creations in the street.

JR Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London Blog
The camera JR found in the Paris Métro in 2000

JR first started as a graffiti artist on the streets and suburbs of Paris, but when he found a camera in the tube in Paris he began to take pictures of graffiti artists and pasted them in the streets. This is how his project Expo 2 Rue (Sidewalk Galleries) was born.

JR Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London Blog
2004: “Portrait of a Generation” with Ladj Ly

I was blown away by the intelligence, sensitivity, and artistic skills JR expresses through his artwork. Because his work is all about getting to know the people better and putting them in the spotlight without any judgment. Making them feel alive, valued, whatever their backgrounds, religion, race, country.

JR Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London Blog
The Saatchi Gallery presents the largest solo museum exhibition to date of the internationally recognised French artist JR: don’t miss out!

JR humanists projects

With his creations, JR tackles some of the world’s biggest social and political issues.

JR Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London Blog
2006-2007: Face 2 Face 

For his project Face 2 Face in 2006-2007, he took portraits of Israelis and Palestinians (despite the tensions in Gaza at the time) and pasted them side by side on both the Israelis and Palestinian sides of the border wall. It was of course impossible to distinguish from the portraits who was Israeli or Palestinian, which put them on an equal footing. And take a position in favor of peace. Doesn’t it look like a brave and admirable job??

JR Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London Blog
2008-2010: Women are heroes

With his project “Women are heroes” JR gives women from different countries a voice. Each of them has a story to tell and is able to testify about personal hardships. JR celebrates each individuality, offers them dignity.

JR Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London Blog
2008-2015: The wrinkles of the city

Several other projects are thoroughly detailed, like:

The wrinkles of the city (2008-2015) highlighting portraits of elderly townspeople pasted on the wall of buildings to symbolise the passage of time;
Inside Out (2011-ongoing), following JR’s TED price in 2011, “giving individuals the opportunity to use their own portrait to highlight a statement or issue in their own community”;

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2019: Tehachapi

Tehachapi (2019), where JR created a collaborative and artistic project with prisoners and staff from this prison. He ended up with 48 portraits which he pasted on the prison yard. This project is particularly moving. It shows staff, prisoners, victims working hand in hand to complete the project.

Also, a video explains all steps of the project and the stories each participant told in front of the camera. I personally thought of the bravery of both the artist innovating such a difficult project due to the context and the prisoners who accepted to confide their personal (sometimes tragic) stories.

JR Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London Blog
2016 & 2019: Le Louvre

Le Louvre (2016 & 2019): JR “made the pyramid seemingly vanish using anamorphic technics”.

JR unique artistic signature

JR says he “has the largest – and free- art gallery in the world”. Thanks to his photographic collage technique, his photographs are exhibited everywhere in the world, on walls, easily catching the eyes and attention of millions of people, many of them being unfamiliar with museums.
JR Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London BlogBut how does JR work exactly?
Once he has all portraits, he prints them out on continuous sheets of paper 36 inches wide.
Then he draws lines that divide the image into stripes for printing and ultimately for putting the strips in the right order. Ultimately he pastes the prints on walls.
Amazing when you realise how many stripes are assembled to complete a photograph…and the conditions JR sometimes has to fight to be able to paste his prints as street walls are not always straight and smooth, or even easily accessible!

Can art change the world?

“if you change the perception we have about a place and about people, it’s a way of changing the world. I feel like as artists we need to be the optimists of this world because there are enough pessimists out there”. JR

I highly recommend this video of JR that will hopefully spread a wave of optimism and -who knows- inspire some of you to create a better world 🙂

JR Doyouspeaklondon Lifestyle London Blog

To go further:
Saatchi Gallery website
JR Chronicles is running until 3 October 2021
JR official website

Doyouspeaklondon END Lifestyle Blog

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