Artist of the Week – JR
Internationally acclaimed and renewed French artist JR is a true example of what art is really about. With a highly successful career lasting for over a decade, this 31-year-old multitalented Frenchman began his artistic path in the streets of Paris. Using tricky and often almost inaccessible spots for his artworks, JR’s works soon became noticed among the local street art community. Initially, the artist chose to express himself through graffiti, only to accidently move to photography, which would completely change the course of his artistic development. After finding a camera on an underground train, JR began the photographic documentation of his tags, which eventually led to placing photocopies of these pics on public walls. His highly adventurous nature took him on a trip across the Europe, where JR first got introduced with the concept of using contours of the urban areas, which was to become his signature sign. He started applying postered photos of the people he met along the way in the streets and basements, and then, on rooftops of Paris. JR’s inventive and visually effective way of producing street art led to an official recognition of his project Portraits of a Generation when the City of Paris embraced and pasted his photos on various buildings. Executed in the course of two years, this project showcased portraits of young people from the housing projects of the French capital. Shifting from the “traditional” graffiti technique, JR began using photography as a primary source for his prints, but his means of expression include video, canvas prints, urban areas, books and social networks.
Today, JR has an enviable career that lets him dedicate himself only to inspirational and exciting projects. Another very important aspect of JR’s work is his socially and politically involved art. From the project Women Are Heroes that depicted women victims of violence and conflict, to the latest participation in “Millions March NYC”, organized as an act of protest in the case of shameful decision not to convict a police officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner. JR is now one of the most exciting young artists out there, and we here at Widewalls, recognize the hard work and effort of our favorite artists. This is why JR is our Artist of the Week!
During the period between September 6th and October 4th 2014, the Magda Danysz Gallery in Shanghai presented a collective exhibition of internationally renowned artist. The show entitled Insight features work of Stéphane Bisseuil, Liu Bolin, Gael Davrinche, Huang Rui, Wang Keping, Sten Lex and JR. An inspirational and mesmerizing amalgam of different styles and techniques was available to the public, from devotion to street art and photography to the artistic expressions of sculptures and characteristic performance art. It is a rendition of the artists’ vision of aspects of existence we sometimes tend to overlook in day-to-day life…
Unframed – Ellis Island
Save Ellis Island (SEI) is a project with a goal to preserve the historic heritage of the island by rehabilitating 29 historic buildings. In addition, the project aims to convey the importance of understanding the process of immigration in time of a globalized world. Invited to be part of the project, artist JR created an inspiring new installation on Ellis Island called “Unframed – Ellis Island” which brought to life a landmark building, patients and medical staff, making the hospital open to the public for the first time in 60 years. Known for his giant monochromatic posters, JR has created portraits from archival photos which were taken a century ago around the hospital and inside the buildings. The pieces were carefully selected and placed within the space of the hospital with respect to the architecture, as JR said. JR said that he will let the “walls decide what part of the image should appear.” The guided tours began on October 1st 2014.
Millions March NYC
The latest one among JR’s projects is the participation in the Millions March NYC, a protest organized by American people who were shocked by the New York grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer responsible for the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the roads of Lower and Midtown Manhattan in order to express their dissatisfaction and bitterness with the situation. The march alone was expectedly moving, but especially because of the images leading the crowd. It were few pieces depicting the eyes of past victims of police brutality made by JR, which demonstrators carried throughout the event. Jr is, as always, doing the right thing on the right side.
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