These days of the Havana Biennial, wandering around the streets may turn out to be an unexpected meeting with urban art and even with The Grooves of the City: a metropolis of unknown faces with different stories.
These days of the Havana Biennial, wandering around the streets may turn out to be an unexpected meeting with urban art and even with The Grooves of the City: a metropolis of unknown faces with different stories, fitted into cracked walls. They emerge as you pass by and you have no other option but to stop and succumb to the mystique of the gigantographies of remarkable French photographer JR, who joined efforts in this project with US-based painter José Parlá.
Who can doubt it? There’s poetry on those walls, which are, according to the U.S. artist, like the psychological mirror of the city.
The walls, previously chosen according to the texture and even the necessary cracks, become the canvas where anonymous profiles are sketched, preferably aged ones.
For JR, the notion of the hero doesn’t find definition any longer in media-elaborated images of famous figures, but in the truth which these ordinary people, interviewed at random by him, are able to transmit to us.
His obsession to capture human expression began in the year 2000, when he found a photographic camera in the subway in Paris. Then he began his pilgrimage around Europe to document street art and the messages that various artists were leaving on the walls.
The year 2006 marked his baptism into this sphere of contemporary mural painting. In snapshots he captured youth from the slum areas so as not to get detached, up to now, from a discourse that has taken him to several continents in countless personal and collective exhibitions. Among these shows stands out the 2011 exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
The Biennial is privileged to have this artist’s talent, winner of the UNESCO Prize for intercultural dialogue between the Arab and Western worlds and who, along with his fellow artist, has given us his artistic hallmark for various years.
The possibility to dialogue with his poetic art, of perhaps meeting again an unknown hero, and of deciphering or inventing through his gesture - already immortalized on concrete - the life stories of those who, like us, make up the faces of Cuba.
Translated by Adriana Pinelo Avendaño
Revised by Susana Hurlich