I am familiar with artist who are known for their paintings, sculptures or books. Never had I ever heard of an artist who’s famous for blowing up photographs of human beings to a size big enough to be wheatpasted on buildings, trains and even roads! One such artist is JR.
He’s is from Paris and prefers to remain rather anonymous in that we never get to see his full facial features (I have only ever seen him wearing glasses). He doesn’t even prefer to say his full name, though the pseudonym JR are his actual initials. The fact that he is somewhat anonymous is fantastic in my opinion. He’s able to avoid unnecessary publicity (for instance into his personal life). And the more mysterious you are, the more people are eager to see you. (This reminds me of a dialogue in The Young Pope where the Pope said that he won’t show his face to the public because being unreachable keeps people asking for more).
While reading his wiki bio, I came across a very interesting word that he used to describe himself: photograffeur. The graffeur comes from graffiti, which is the type of art what he originally started with until he bought a camera.
The approach he uses to display art his very unique. So it’s not just a painting you’re looking at, it is a life size or even larger photograph of a person on the street or on a building with a strong background story. Wheatpasting photographs or putting up advertisements on legal and illegal places is also known as flyposting.
All the photographs are not without stories. For example, among his many projects, there is one called Face2face where he photographed israélien and Palestinian people of the same profession and asked them to make funny or sad faces. The results were pasted side by side on The Seperation wall. The purpose was to focus on the similarities between the two, which if recognised may help solve the political tension between the two places.
He also collaborated with the NYC ballet for their second annual art series program. Ballerinas were photographed in different poses. This was made into one huge poster (if u will) of life size ballerinas pasted on the floor of the promenade. It is breathtaking to look at.
When I went to his exhibition at the Katara Cultural Village, I was a bit disappointed as a lot of the great photographs that I had seen on the internet had not been featured. I don’t remember seeing anything from the Inside Out project.
Here are a few pictures from yesterday. Of course, not all of them will be posted here as I would like to keep some for myself.
What I really like about JR is that his work is extremely meaningful. All the people in the photographs have a story and JR is here to tell it. Like, the eyes of a woman from Kenya for his project Women are heroes. He promised that he would tell her story to the world and he did so by pasting her eyes on a shipment that was going all the way to Malaysia.
The project that I am in awe of is the Inside Out project. This is something everyone in the world can participate in, but the photograph needs to be black and white. You send it to them and they send you back a life size poster of it which you then display for all the world to see. I was going through the list of the countries who had participated in it and was in complete shock to find my native country in the list!
This is in Peshawar, as an answer to the drone attacks that killed several kids.
How I wish I could be as creative as he is!
The exhibition isn’t over yet. Katara building 10. It’s there until 31st May. Go and get inspired..for free!
P.S shouldn’t Katara be paying me for this? I mean I am doing publicity for them since there is no other place where you can hear about the exhibition. No? Okay, whatever..