• Erika Argiolas

JR's "The Wound": Healing Culture

JR davanti a Palazzo Strozzi © Dragopublisher

His face is never fully shown, semi-hidden by a hat and a pair of sunglasses in the act of making himself difficult to recognize. This aura of mystery and the type of art he practiced led him to be called "the Parisian Banksy". I'm talking about Jean René, aka JR. class 1983.

JR was born in Paris, initially involved in the art of projects made on walls all over the world - graffiti - and in illegal art, then changed direction to devote himself more to photographic collage that led him to win the Ted Prize in 2011, which inevitably marked the turning point of his career.

He defines "the world" as his personal gallery and the largest imaginable. In fact, among some of his projects we can remember the blow-up of a child overlooking the dividing wall between the United States and Mexico in 2017 or even the notorious intervention on the Louvre Pyramid in 2019 in Paris.

Jr gets back to talk about himself, packs his suitcase and goes to Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance and under the curatorship of Arturo Galansino (General Director of Palazzo Strozzi Foundation), he creates the mammoth work that can now be seen at Palazzo Strozzi: The Wound.

JR - La Ferita (The Wound) 2021, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence. Photo by OKNOstudio

It was installed on March 19 (expected on site until August 22, 2021).

28 meters high by 33 wide, made up of 88 panels printed in black and white on aluminum Dibond.

Fabulous anamorphosis, a union of visual games that give the impression of observing something highly deformed. But the trick is to find the right angle, the right perspective, and magically every line and shape begins to make perfect sense.
Jr posa di fronte a Palazzo Strozzi © Jennifer Lorenzini/Reuters

"The Wound" is a colossal trompe l'oeil that tears open the facade of the Florentine Renaissance palace, allowing passers-by to look beyond the wall.

This “beyond” that JR wants to underline is a dimension that can only be reached through light. Probably the reference to a parallel dimension that exists but which is not easily accessed, in other words: the world of culture.

JR's work is a clear reference that shows how one year after the outbreak of this terrible pandemic, the world of culture is still suffering, torn by persistent wounds: permanent closures of museums, theaters, cinemas and libraries.

JR - La Ferita (The Wound) 2021, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence. Photo by OKNOstudio

Beyond the wall gash it is possible to observe on the ground floor the colonnade that characterizes the internal courtyard of the building, while on the first floor you can see the exhibition room containing some of the best known and most appreciated works of Florentine art: The Birth of Venus and The Spring of Boticelli, and Gianbologna's The Rape of the Sabine Women. On the top floor you can see a library, precisely the Library of the Nation Institute of Renaissance Studies which is actually located inside the building.

The work is a real act of raising awareness that acts in a double way.

On the one hand it shows itself as a real denunciation and awareness of an existing and much more global problem, namely that of an absence, a lack, which is increasingly felt, that of access to culture and places of culture.

While on the other the attempt to make up for and cancel this deprivation in all possible ways through the creation of a public work, that everyone can have the opportunity to enjoy, not enclosed within four walls, not for a few but for many , for everyone.

A real act of freedom, which invites people to go out of their house with the sole intent of going and interacting with art.

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