JR’s First Solo Show in Italy Focuses on the Vanishing Rural Traditions of Tuscany—See Images Here

The exhibition centers on his new film, "Omelia contadina."

JR, Omelia contadina, Iris Pulvano(2020). Theater installation at Galleria Continua. Photo by Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.
JR, Omelia contadina, Iris Pulvano(2020). Theater installation at Galleria Continua. Photo by Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

Galleria Continua is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the first Italian solo exhibition of French photographer and street artist JR.

Though the gallery, which was founded in 1990, is now a multinational endeavor with spaces in Beijing, Paris, Havana, and Rome, the JR exhibition, titled “Omelia contadina,” takes place in the gallery’s first space, a former cinema in the medieval town of San Gimignano. 

Famed for his large-scale installations that combine public art and photography, JR often questions the ambiguities of modern-day life through his interventions. In this exhibition, he brings that ethos to the people and traditions of Tuscany.

His short film, Omelia contadina, which premiered at the 77th Venice International Film Festival this year and was made with the Italian director Alice Rohrwacher, centers the exhibition and explores the disappearances of traditional rural cultures and traditions.

"JR: Omelia Contadina," 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

JR: Omelia Contadina,” 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

A site-specific installation of photographic works made on glass, paper, and plaster accompanies the film, along with a massive image of an older woman that fills and transforms not only the stage, but also the seating area of the gallery’s former cinema space.

Also on view are photographs of “Processione Omélia Contadina,” a performance by JR and Alice Rohrwacher that set out this past September from the Cathedral of San Gimignano with members of the local community carrying massive black-and-white photographic renderings of a man to a local field, where they buried it.

"JR: Omelia Contadina," 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

JR: Omelia Contadina,” 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

“At one point, we stopped at a crossroads,” Rohrwacher recalled of the event. “On all sides, uninterrupted rows of hazelnut trees filled the landscape as far as the horizon. As we looked upon this, we commented to each other that it looked like a war cemetery. On the way back we decided, if it looks like a cemetery, we have to hold a funeral. But it must be a funeral full of life.”

The founders of Galleria Continua, Mario Cristiani, Lorenzo Fiaschi, and Maurizio Rigillo, say the exhibition fits into the spirit of the gallery’s long history.

“We wanted to try—and we are still insisting today—to give an electric shock, a life update, a wake-up call, to a place or places that we loved,” they said in a joint statement.. 

See more image from “JR: Omelia Contadina” below.

"JR: Omelia Contadina," 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

JR: Omelia Contadina,” 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

JR: Omelia Contadina,” 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

"JR: Omelia Contadina," 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

JR: Omelia Contadina,” 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

"JR: Omelia Contadina," 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

JR: Omelia Contadina,” 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

"JR: Omelia Contadina," 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

JR: Omelia Contadina,” 2020. Courtesy of Galleria Continua, San Gimignano. Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio.

JR: Omelia Contadina” is on view at Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, through January 10, 2021. 


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