Perhaps one of the most important functions for which art can be used is to bring people together. Moreover, to raise awareness for those who share this world with us. The French artist, who tries to do just that with his artistic practice, uses the largest museum in the world. He carries his ideas through the streets of cities all around the world.
JR’s artistic engagement began with graffiti. Born in 1983, JR nicknamed “Face 3” on the street walls and subway passages of Paris during his youth. After he found a camera in the subway, he turned to photography. It completely changed his perspective on the well-known practice of street art. He not only created his own graffiti. In addition, JR was also able to record the works he created as well as those produced by other artists. He followed the individuals and the communication generated by this show. It would prove to be a sign for his whole career. JR is still known for communicating messages between groups of people through his public works.
With the camera in his hand, JR had developed his photographic skills into an event. This would not only drive him in the eyes of the world art scene. It would also further define his approach to visual expression. The riots that broke out in the suburbs of Paris in 2004 gave JR the opportunity to capture the faces of those participating. Most of these were immigrant populations. The project was to publish these images in larger numbers all over the city. The close-ups with the background of many current social topics have become a trademark for the artist. He has pointed out the problems of equality, freedom and identity in his previous work.
After drawing attention to himself with his first project, JR went on. The public’s view was directed to some familiar but ignored social issues. Most importantly, he photographes with his camera with a 28mm wide-angle lens. JR’s subjects are photographed up close and personal. They reveal the essence of their emotions – the pain, the happiness, the sadness we all felt at some point in our lives. By leaving behind nothing but the basic nature of the people with which we can identify. Moreover, JR speaks a universal language that can be understood on a level that crosses boundaries of region, nationality, religion, education or age. His large-format works produce the fundamental elements of humanity. They connect us, but are usually buried under the cover of social norms.