ellis island home york post

JR /   Unknown

France 1983

Street Art, Photography


March 14, 2016
Behind the pseudonym of Lor Dethal lies Nemanja Torlak, a writer for Widewalls intrigued and moved by diversity in art and in the lives of those who create it. It is often the unexpected that come forth and surprise us, and art is a world that allows it and makes it possible. David beats the Goliath daily, and writing about it is a pleasure.

Perhaps one of the most important purposes that art may be used towards is bringing people together and increasing awareness of those that share this world with us. Trying to accomplish exactly that with his artistic practice, the French artist going by his initials of JR uses the biggest museum in the world to carry his ideas across – the streets of the cities across the globe. Merging together photography and street art, his publicly displayed works charged with emotion and heavy social issues are heralds of change in the reality formed by preconceptions built by advertising and the media.

JR uses the biggest museum in the world to carry out his ideas

JR new policy ted 2016 contact inside use privacy terms prize week watch
JR – Women Are Heroes 1, 2008. Photo credits jr-art.net

Introduction to Photography

JR’s artistic involvement started out with graffiti, as he adored the movement and its realization even as a boy. Born in 1983, JR would graffiti tag the street walls and subway passages of Paris during his teen days using the moniker Face 3. It wasn’t until he found a camera on the subway that he turned to photography, as it completely changed his perception of the known practice of street art. More than just creating graffiti of his own, he was able to capture the work he has made as well as pieces produced by other fellow artists, tracking the individuals and communication produced through this display. It would prove to leave a mark on his entire further career, as he remains known for carrying messages between groups of people through his publicly displayed works.

JR is known for constantly telling the stories of those that are invisible to the world

JR new policy ted use privacy terms prize week watch team open
JR – The Wrinkles of the City, 2010. Photo credits jr-art.net

Intense Beginnings

Camera in hand, JR had developed his photographic skills until an event that would not only propel him in the eye of the world art scene but also further define his approach to visual expression. The riots that broke out in the suburbs (banlieues) of Paris in 2004 gave JR a chance to capture the faces of those involved, largely comprised of the immigrant population. The project consisted of posting these images in larger proportions throughout the city, humanizing an otherwise discriminated group of people by portraying emotion and character. The up-close photographs containing a background of many present social issues have become a signature mark for the artist, and he has emphasized the problems of equality, freedom, and identity in his work thus far.

Up-close photographs contain a background of many present social issues

JR york account new policy ted use privacy terms prize
JR – Portrait of a Generation, 2004. Photo credits jr-art.net

Portrait of a Generation

After drawing attention with his initial project, JR kept walking the path of averting the public gaze towards some well known, yet overlooked social issues. Often using his camera with a 28mm wide-angle lens, JR’s subjects are photographed close and personal, utterly revealing the essence of their emotions – the pain, the happiness, the sorrow that we all felt at some point in our lives. By leaving nothing but the basic nature of people that we can all relate to, JR speaks a universal language that can be understood on a scale wider than the boundaries presented by region, nationality, religion, education or age. His large-scale works bring forth the essential elements of humanity that connect us but tend to be buried under the guise of social norms.

All of these traits have been present in his practice that consists of displaying the photographs blown up in proportions as part of street art. Crossing the boundary of legal actions in order to realize his work, his “public exhibitions” draw tensions and issues to the forefront. His 2006 Portrait of a Generation project consists of images of African immigrants after the riots in the suburbs of Paris; in 2007, JR pasted large images of cheerful Palestinians and Jews on the opposite sides of the bridge that separates them in a project titled Face 2 Face; the 2008 project Women are Heroes included images of communities’ women stricken by the effects of war, violence, and poverty. These, and other projects conducted by the artist, all stand as a representation of his ideas and ideology, and the will to change the reality we live in.

JR speaks a universal language that can be understood across social boundaries

JR york account contact 2016 inside 2015 team open
JR – Women Are Heroes, 2008. Photo credits jr-art.net

Medium for Change

Constantly telling the stories of those that are invisible to the world, JR seeks to turn it inside out through art and its possibilities. Employing street art and photography in his practice, he uses the biggest gallery in the world – the streets – to further his goal. Often crossing the line of the law, the artist displays on the streets of Middle East, the walls in slums of Paris, bridges of Africa and favelas of Brazil, pulling a thread between his subjects, the art as a medium, and those observing it. Much like in his days as a teen, JR claims his works to be a form of tagging – pasting faces of personas onto the walls hoping for a change. By putting his practice in-between the two sides, the project he took upon himself carries over to those that are now aware of it.

The artist is represented by Verso Contemporary Art, Ministry of Walls, Magda Danysz Gallery, Lazarides, Hang-Up Gallery, Galerie Perrotin, ARTSUGGEST.com.

JR lives and works in Paris, France.

Featured image: JR. Photo credits frenchalacarteblog.com.
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2016360°Galerie Magda Danysz, ShanghaiGroup
2016Still Here: A Decade Of LazaridesLazarides, LondonGroup
2015INTERVENTIONSGalerie Magda Danysz, ParisGroup
2015JR: CrossingnLazarides, LondonSolo
2015JR: DECADE - Portrait d'une générationGalerie Perrotin, Turenne, ParisSolo
2015Outside In: Art of the StreetMiddlebury College Museum of Art, USAGroup
2015UprisingCentro De Arte Contemporáneo De Málaga, SpainSolo
2015JRGalerie Perrotin, Hong KongSolo
2015Virtual Reality ArcadeSite Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Art, UKGroup
2015Ghost of Ellis island, unframed projectGalerie Perrotin, Hong Kong Solo
2015UpcomingGalerie Perrotin, New York Solo
2014Inside OutDallas ContemporarySolo
2014A retrospective Frieder Burda Museum, Baden Baden, GermanySolo
2014Close Upagda Danysz Gallery in ShanghaiSolo
2014JRPower Station of Art, ShanghaiSolo
2013JRTokyo - Watari-Um MuseumSolo
2013Wrinkles of the City project Berlin - Springmann GallerySolo
2013Belle de Mai / UnframedMarseille, France - La Friche Belle de MaiSolo
2013The Wrinkles of the City, HavanaNew York - Bryce Wolkowitz GallerySolo
2013Inside Out ProjectCincinnati - Contemporary Arts CenterSolo
2013Amsterdam - Unseen Photo FairGroup
2013ACTIONSLondon - Lazarides RathboneSolo
2012Inside Out projectImages Festival, Vevey, SwitzerlandGroup
2012Inside Out projectPerrotin Gallery, Hong KongSolo
2011Art In the StreetsMOCA Museum, Los Angeles Group
2011Inside Out projectTED Prize 2011Group
2011Emirati ExpressionsAbu DhabiGroup
2011Inside OutLes Rencontres d'ArlesSolo
2011 Wall and PapersMiami Art Basel, Perrotin GallerySolo
2011EncragesPerrotin Gallery, Paris
2011Women Are HeroesJR's filmSolo
2011Inside OutCentre Pompidou, ParisSolo
2010Inside Out projectDüsseldorf, Germany - Springmann GallerySolo
2010Inside Out projectShangai, China - Contemporary art BiennalSolo
2010Images FestivalVevey, Switzerland - Elysee Museum Solo
2010Inside Out projectMuseum of Contemporary Art of San DiegoSolo
2010Inside Out projectLos Angeles, US - Lazarides GallerySolo
2009Mairie du 4e arrondissementParis, Ile Saint-Louis, Pavillon de l'ArsenalSolo
2009Inside Out projectLes Rencontres d'ArlesSolo
2009Inside Out projectRio de Janeiro, Brazil, Casa França BrasilSolo
200828 MM, Inside Out project Lazarides GallerySolo
2008Inside Out projectTate Modern, LondonSolo
2008Inside Out projectCartagena, SpainSolo
2008Inside Out projectRath Museum, GenevaSolo
2008Inside Out projectBrussels, BelgiumSolo
2007Inside out projectBiennale de Venise, Arsenal, VeniceSolo
2007FoamMusée de la Photographie, AmsterdamSolo
2007Inside Out projectLes Rencontres d'ArlesSolo
2007Inside out projectArtitud, BerlinSolo
2006On the streetMurs de l'Espace des Blancs Manteaux, ParisSolo
2006Inside out projectParvis de l'Hôtel de Ville, Paris
200611 Spring, Inside out projectManhattan, New YorkSolo
2006Inside out projectWuppertal (Allemagne)Solo
2006Inside out projectMurs de la Maison Européenne de la Photographie, ParisSolo
2005JR and Blu, mural installation in Berlin, Inside out projectCircleCulture, BerlinGroup
2005Inside out projectMontanashop, BarceloneSolo
2005Inside out projectLes Muses, ParisSolo
2004Inside out projectThe Arcade, Manhattan, New YorkSolo
2003Inside out projectLa Loge, ParisSolo