Perrotin Seoul is pleased to present the first solo exhibition in South Korea by the artist JR (b. 1983). An autodidact, JR’s reputation has grown over the past fifteen years thanks to his monumental photo- graphic collages which have filled urban and natural landscapes around the world. Through his work, the artist has turned the spotlight on places which we customarily ignore, paying attention to everyday people, those who live in the shadows, the ones we never hear or notice. The exhibition presented in Seoul brings together eleven works that bear witness to the artist’s latest site-specific work.
A large number of the works on display – photographic prints that permanently record these ephemeral installations or works in progress, lift a veil on the artist’s creative process – recall the installation present- ed by JR at the Louvre Museum in Paris in May 2016. In response to an invitation by the Louvre, whose doors have been open from the very beginning to contemporary artists, JR had the ambitious idea of making the famous glass pyramid temporarily disappear. Designed in 1988 as the museum’s main entrance by the renown architect I. M. Pei, the glass pyramid was a controversial work when it was first erected but today, 30 years later, it has become a key symbol of the museum and one of the most famous landmarks of the Parisian architectural cityscape.
The pyramid was covered on its main side with large tarps that reproduced a trompe l’oeil image in black and white of the façade of the Clock Pavilion, designed by architect Jacques Lemercier, the immediate structure visible behind the pyramid. Standing at a precise spot aligned with the entrance, visitors could witness the entire pyramid disappear, its silhouette being the only memory preserved. Through this surprising anamorphosis that played on the apparently irreconcilable contradiction between erasure and revelation, JR made it possible to see the Palais du Louvre as it once was, all the while he invited visitors to cast a new gaze on the pyramid.
The installation at the Louvre led the artist to develop a thought provoking observation on the heritage and the architectural history of a site, whereas most of his work places men and women at the heart of his concerns in order to give them back a voice that has often been taken away from them (Portrait of a Generation, 2004–06; Women Are Heroes, 2008–14; The Wrinkles of the Cities since 2008; Inside Out Project since 2011).
JR made use of another historic monument and architectural symbol for the vast installation he unveiled on October 3, 2018 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, on the occasion of the national German holiday celebrating the country’s reunification. The artist adapted an archival photograph, taken by photographer Iris Hesse on November 10, 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down, pasting it onto a huge scaffolding structure, creating a gigantic photomontage measuring almost 80 feet tall.
In the installation, three border guards filling the entire height of the arches powerless watch the top of the Gate on which a crowd has. gathered, a crowd that is anonymous but that already belongs to History, having come to celebrate the fall of the Wall of shame and their new-found freedom. The Berlin installation is a direct echo of the Kikito project (2017), erected on the U.S.-Mexico border where the giant image of a child mischievously challenged US border patrol officers across the metallic barrier separating the two countries.
In 2017, JR created an installation in Death Valley in California that consisted of a monumental black and white photograph reproducing the surrounding mountainous landscape. This installation served as an artistic collaboration with the Canadian independent rock band Arcade Fire for the cover of their album Everything Now (2017).
In November 2018, JR inaugurated a large solo exhibition at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris titled MOMENTUM, la mécanique de l’épreuve. The exhibition fills the entirety of the museum, a first for the museum that serves as Paris’s institutional reference for photography. In April 2019, JR will unveil a huge digital wall fresco at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art titled The Chronicles of San Francis- co. His work will also be the subject of a large-scale exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in New York in the autumn of 2019.