JR: Chronicles at the Saatchi Gallery


Author: Rachel Martin


Снимок экрана 2021-09-21 в 16-25-59

Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saatchi_Gallery.jpg



In London, for the remainder of the month of September, viewers can view the largest solo exhibition to date of French artist JR’s works.


JR is known for his iconic, large-scale photography works. He calls himself a photograffeur - a portmanteau of the French words for “photographer” and “graffiti artist”. His portfolio includes projects in which he pasted papers in front of the Louvre Museum in Paris to create a trompe l’oeil effect in which the famous pyramid in front of the museum appeared to disappear, as well as his early street art. As a teenager, JR discovered a camera on the Paris metro and this changed his life – from here, he began to create photography works in which he blew up to monumental prints and pasted from cities from Israel and Palestine to Brazil.


This solo exhibition features all of these aspects of JR’s career. Beginning in his early graffiti days, the works included his internationally recognizable works through to his more recent digital collages of collective portraits of communities around the world. Originally based in France, JR’s practice expanded from Europe to the global scene through the early 2000s as he undertook further projects.


An interesting aspect of the exhibition is not its comprehensive nature (it undertakes a fair amount of JR’s works), but rather the exploration of the building process behind his works. Beginning by printing his photographs himself to paste on the walls of buildings around Paris illegally, JR has expanded his practice to take on the world’s biggest gallery – the streets. These early pieces are included in the exhibition, but we are also able to see the continuous sheets (36 inches wide) that go into making his later massive-scale pieces.

The exhibition itself focuses on three aspects of JR’s work, from the idea to the execution and finally the documentation. The documentation is an aspect that the artist himself undertakes. Often his pieces involve many volunteers coming together to bring his work to the large-scale audiences he targets. JR – armed with his camera – keeps track of every part of this process. The size of his works, in images in books or online is at times difficult to grasp, but on the gallery walls we are able to see the stunning, moving nature of these pieces as they exist.


As a part of the exhibition, JR has recorded a series of anecdotes about some of his more risky undertakings. His work has taken him to hostile environments, where he fearlessly inserts himself to paste up his works while authorities might stop these illegal activities. This is available outside of the exhibition, on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Q0Q3JC1lQ0.


JR’s commitment to humanity and community is evident throughout the exhibition. At a time when both of these aspects of our lives seem at times unattainable, the Saatchi Gallery does an excellent job to underline the difficulties that borders and boundaries bring to us around the world.


The opening of this exhibition in June featured a reworking of his Inside Out project in London. This project featured a traveling van shaped like an analog camera into which you could step into have your photograph taken, then printed out in large scale and finally pasted outdoors. The Inside Out project is one that JR has reworked throughout his career, traveling around the world to offer any and everybody the chance to become a work of art.


Projects included in JR: Chronicles include Face 2 Face, 2007 (large portraits of Palestinians and Israelis which JR printed and pasted on either side of the border, Women Are Heroes, 2008-9 (a documentation of women around the world and their contributions to day-to-day life), and Portraits of a Generation, 2005 (photographs of Parisian banlieue inhabitants following riots). Another piece included is his video mural Gun Chronicles: A Story of America, 2018. This work interviews Americans from shooting victims to law enforcement officers and presents a polarizing opportunity to discuss America’s gun laws.


For more information, see the exhibition webpage:



Where: Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY When: 4 June – 3 October 2021


Monday - Sunday: 10am - 6pm Last Entry: 5pm


Tickets: Online reservation strongly recommended, tickets available through the above website for £9-12.



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