Last weekend, I had the opportunity to go to part of the 24 hours’ event that JR and the museum the Louvre organized to launch the one artistic operation of covering The Louvre Pyramid the most visited pyramid in the world (yep, more than Egypt). Covered with plasticized paper, and yes in the photo you will see that from a distance and in black and white the plastered wall makes the pyramid disappear with the background façade of the Louvre.
People from all ages from 4 to 70 came to listen on Saturday and participate on Sunday to his Masterclass, taking selfies with their phones, making faces and following JR everywhere, « like a Messiahs » someone said jokingly, he is not a Messiahs but he is indeed an Artist of the People as People are his true and main subjects, so it is natural they will follow him around.
All this was very exciting, but what was a true delight and opportunity where the conversations and panels held Saturday with JR and other artist like Daniel Buren, Felice Varini and the legendary movie director Agnes Varda, with whom he is producing a very creative and touching documentary of their working road-trip together.
Having some moments to listen to JR and the effect his work has had in the world in the last years has been very inspiring, this man that looks like a teenager (He is 33) maybe Be an artist, but has a presence and charisma that makes it clear that beyond the artiness there is a brilliant mind, a very clear vision of his work and a charming persona. This explains maybe how he has managed to navigate the world of art, that was unknown to him in his beginnings, making people from all over the world collaborate with him, plaster in places it would be unthinkable like the Gaza Strip, get one of the most powerful galleries in Paris represent him, but for me something is clear and that is what is very touching , through his art he really touches and gives importance to humanity, to people, he uses photos of hundreds of people that we don’t know but in each project because of the context he honours them , whether it is the women at the Favelas in Brazil, where he shared an anecdote of Mafia people with guns coming and asking him chat he was doing and after explaining the project they would just pat him in the back and leave or ask if he needed help (Do consider this is really one of the most dangerous areas in Brazil), or he has put up the photos in the Gaza Strip, putting photos of people from both sides of the wall making funny faces, people could not recognize who was form where, the message was clear, at the end « we are all the same, even if we are fighting » also « Inside Out » a project where he lets people be the artists offering to print their posters for free if they can’t pay it, and they can put it where they want , now people have plastered their portraits for several reasons from political to social in four corners of the world. Lately Cuba and New York, in Cuba for the Biennale for the first time in a country where the only person you could see Fidel he put Cubans from different background in big format in buildings as part of a work of art. And in New York for the immigrants.
His Art has crossed the borders of politics and division to recognize and honour the people that live through difficult times. Showing that Art can be a pacific conversationalist that can make a difference where everything may have failed.
His projects have brought beauty to some forgotten places in the world, honour women, immigrants (living and death), men, prisoners and many more. He has made movies with people like Robert Deniro and Leonardo Dicarpio, and collaborates with many others that join his projects for conviction more than anything else.
Besides this he has had other commissions and projects, like covering the Pantheon in Paris with thousands of portraits of people from all over France. Projects like the one in the Louvre that give humour to our daily life in the city.
All this from someone who’s true identity we don’t know, who started 13 years ago playing after finding a camera in the metro, thinking the Champs Elysees was the top place to plaster a photo, so he decided to go out in the world and make it it’s gallery, where will he plaster next? who knows maybe the Empire State? Or the United Nations?, I would vote for the lather as his message of Oneness is clear, representing people from all over the world and all walks of life. A visual fest of Unity.
I will be following him and keep inspired, when you put your creativity for a bigger cause than you, magic and impact are inevitable.