Jean Jullien solo exhibition LOLO expresses a love-hate relationship with the city and the countryside

Les Planches

The collection of paintings is divided into two parts: one dense room that reflects Jullien’s relationship with the city and another that portrays his fascination with the outdoors.

French artist and graphic designer Jean Jullien is back with a solo exhibition, LOLO, which asks questions about whether cities are the best places for people to live in one of the most famous cities in the world: New York.

The exhibition began last month and is housed at the Big Apple’s Hashimoto Contemporary gallery. Although cities are designed for convenience and entertainment, Jullien’s latest works highlight how we often escape to towering mountains, expansive forests, and rolling waves to experience awe and respite.

Through this show, Jullien questions both settings. Are high-density apartment complexes and jammed subway cars the best places for humans to live? Is the alternative way of life – country living – as idyllic as it seems?

The Watchers

Dune Trio

Dog Walker

The collection of nine site-specific paintings and drawings embody Jullien’s typical witty humour as he muses over the paradox between desiring a calm, peaceful life in the countryside and craving the nightlife and company of the bustling city.

“The show at Hashimoto is divided into two parts: a dense room with black-and-white wall drawings discussing my (hopefully relatable) love/hate relationship with the city,” says Jullien.

“The second one is all about my fascination and appetite for the great outdoors and how these two environments are feared and desired at the same time on a personal level. Love the density but want to be freed from it. Love the people but want to be alone.”

Though looming questions and existential contradictions run a thread through these works, Jullien’s swift, loose brushstrokes keep the mood playful as he considers where to live the best life.

Jullien explains: “I’ve really tried to use two different mediums I love to the best of their capacities”.

“The loose/ chaotic and comedic black and white drawing to express my ambivalent feelings about the city and small colourful, minimal paintings to share how being outside in nature makes me feel.”

Skipping in Normandy

Maman Mônetier les Bains

The site-specific drawings in the gallery make the viewer think about the cramped yet convivial environment of the cities, from New York to Paris, positioning these crowded metropolises as sites of communion for the starry-eyed, incubators for technical innovators, and keepers of culture, history, and gourmandise.

Jullien sought to communicate the feelings of those moments when he longs to escape these microcosms, which are arguably smelly, expensive, and, allegedly, dangerous.

His series depicts small, anonymous figures punctuating pastoral scenes of fields, oceans, alpines, and beaches. He intentionally does not celebrate nature’s sublime chaos. Instead, he tells its story from a small human perspective, painting a picture of the gentle serenity offered by a life in the sticks.

That’s how it may seem at first glance, but upon closer inspection, the small, clothed bodies of these figures enjoying the natural wonders are drastically juxtaposed with the expansive landscape.

One can imagine how that environment might become desolate, lonely, and even inhabitable for different reasons than the city.

“The challenge was to make this discussion relatable”, says Jullien. “I always take inspiration from personal experience and lived moments because I think it’s more genuine that way.”

“But I hope that the viewers can see themselves in the situations described and that it’s not seen as too self-indulgent.”

The Jogger

Shot by Manon Milou

Jullien concludes that cities will grow, shrink, rise, and crumble as humanity’s path blunders on but that nature’s indifference to us will long surpass our love of it.

Hashimoto Contemporary NYC gallery director Jenniffer Rizzo says: “We are thrilled to be giving Jean Jullien a platform to exhibit in NYC, as he has been an artist we appreciate and admire for a long time”.

“The site-specific installation the artist painted captures the experience of living in a city, both the excitement and frustrations. Juxtaposed with the scenic landscape paintings, Jean truly created an escape from the bustle.”

Jean Jullien’s LOLO will be on view from now until 27 April.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.