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JR, GIANT installation at Lazinc, Mayfair, 2017 | © JR. Courtesy Lazinc
JR, GIANT installation at Lazinc, Mayfair, 2017 | © JR. Courtesy Lazinc

French Artist JR Launches London Gallery Lazinc With Epic Installation

Picture of Freire Barnes
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 12 January 2018

At Culture Trip we love how French street artist JR infiltrates the urban environment with his epic black and white imagery that tackles identity and inequality. It’s been a couple of years since he’s staged a major exhibition in London, but with the launch of Lazinc gallery in Mayfair, the capital is in for a rare treat that will turn the mere street into a spectacle.

In 2016, JR created three major sculptural installations in conjunction with the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro that caught athletes in motion performing recognisable Olympic sports. But instead of focusing on household names, JR turned his lens onto lesser known sportsmen and women, who weren’t competing in the Olympics.

Entitled GIANTS, the black and white images of diving, high-jumping and swimming athletes were transformed into monumental three dimensional installations that were sited around Rio on large scaffolding structures.

Installation on side of a building of a highjumper by French Street artist JR for Comité international Olympique, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016

JR, Giants series, Mohamed Younes Idriss from Sudan, Flamengo, 2016 | © Comité international Olympique, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016

Capturing the beauty of the physical moment, JR had the Cologne-based Sudanese high jumper Mohamed Youness Idress leap over a grand apartment block in the residential area of Flamengo and Brazilian diver Cleuson Lima do Rosario plunge into the sea at the Barra da Tijuca.

Installation by French Street artist JR of olympic swimmer diving into sea in Brazil

JR, Giants series, Cleuson Lima Do Rosario, Barra da Tijuca, 2016 | © Comité international Olympique, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2016

So to launch Steve Lazarides and Wissam Al Mana’s new gallery Lazinc on Sackville Street in London’s Mayfair, JR continues the theme of his GIANTS series and has unveiled a new 22-foot sculptural installation of giant legs emerging from the gallery’s first floor windows.

The legs belong to French national high jumper Fabrice Saint-Jean, with the athlete’s head and body landing in the ground floor of the gallery.

The 679cm high work forms the prelude to the French artist’s multidisciplinary solo show, GIANTS: Body of Work.

Installation of legs coming out of a building in Mayfair by French Street artists JR

JR, GIANT installation at Lazinc, Mayfair, 2017 | © JR. Courtesy Lazinc. Photo: Jeff Moore

Taking over the 4,000 square-foot gallery, JR will showcase never before seen works that include the studio plans, drawings and prototypes used for the creation of the GIANTS display during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

A series of mixed media studies distill JR’s ginormous Olympic public installations into exquisite, unique and considerably smaller compositions, and includes a miniature version of the French triathlete Léonie Périault swimming in Rio’s Botafogo Bay.

Artwork by French Street artist JR from his Giants series of Olympic high-jumper

JR, Mohamed Younes Idriss from Sudan, from Giants series, 2016 | © the artist, courtesy Lazinc

The show follows his recent exhibitions in Berlin and installation on the US-Mexico border and continues a new way of presenting JR’s distinctive practice and working processes.

It is a rare chance to see the behind-the-scenes workings of one of the world’s most prominent street artists who puts the face of the ordinary, overlooked person at the forefront of his work; creating stunning evocative portraits of different cultures.

JR: GIANTS is at Lazinc 29 Sackville Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 3DX from January 12 to February 28, 2018.

Want to see more art in London? Here are the best free exhibitions to see this week