Giants exhibition from JR opens at the Lazinc Gallery in London
The show focuses on JR’s work at the 2016 Rio Olympics when he created a number of giant images of Olympic events including diving, the high jump and swimming. As part of the show at the Lazinc he has presented studio plans, prototypes and drawings which he developed to realise what would eventually be installed in situ at the games.
As an extra bonus, installed on scaffolding outside the gallery, is a giant installation in the same style as those presented during the Olympics and made specifically for the show. Depicting a giant athlete doing the high jump the athletes legs are dangling mid air on the outside of the building whilst inside the viewer is presented with a giant upside down head as if the athlete has fosby flopped through the building.
The gallery itself is newly opened and operated by Steve Lazarides, himself best known for running the Lazarides gallery as well as being Banksy’s former agent, and Qatari businessman and art collector Wissam Al Mana. Based in a townhouse on Sackville Street it’s an impressive location in the heart of the city.
Artists don’t tend to come much bigger than JR in the street art world so for an opening exhibition it’s a coup for the gallery. Starting out as a tagger on the streets and rooftops of Paris when he was just 15 it would be the finding a cheap camera in the Paris subway in 2001 which would change his trajectory.
Taking pictures of his friends, he would make photocopies of the pictures he took and then at 17 exhibited his first ‘expo de rue’ or street gallery. Placing them all over Paris he would showcase his photos in hand-drawn frames on the walls of the city. “I mean the city’s the best gallery I could imagine” he told a TED audience in 2011.
Projects followed, the first ‘Portraits of a Generation‘ when after the Paris riots of 2005 he began to paste caricature faces of some of the people who lived in the area of the riots and who may well have been involved in spots around the more well off areas of the city. Then in 2007 he visited Israel and Palestine and created a project called ‘Face to Face‘ where he would paste the faces of Palestinian and Israeli people who did the same job next to each other on both sides of the border wall.
He followed this up in 2008 with an international exhibition called ‘Women are Heroes‘ taking pictures of women who were themselves often the target of conflicts and pasting their images high and large in places around the World. One of the most recognisable parts of this project being the transformation of the Moro de Providencia, a flavela in Rio de Janiero which had a reputation for violence, but which was turned into a huge open air art gallery.
Other projects have followed most notably his Inside Out work where members of the public where invited to take pictures of themselves and paste them up on the walls of their own city in what would become a giant collaboration. Then of course in Rio where JR would become one of the artists in residence during the 2016 Olympics and where his giant installations would appear.
Now it is the work from Giants which is celebrated at the Lazinc. Choosing not to work with the ‘stars’ of the sports he was representing he was more interested in working with the lesser known athletes in order make his giant installations. Now on Sackville Street in London at least for the time being we can see a little bit of those Rio works for ourselves.
Giants at the Lazinc Gallery on Sackville Street in Mayfair was visited on Saturday 12 January 2018 which was also the first day of opening of the gallery itself. The show runs until 28 February 2018.