STUDIOLO, the first individual exhibition in Europe for the artist, Jean Jullien

STUDIOLO is the first individual exhibition in Europe for the French artist, Jean Jullien (1983), in which his intimate paintings come to life in immersive surroundings accompanied by comments painted with his own hands on the walls of the MIMA museum in Brussels (Belgium).

Site: MIMA
Address: Quai du Hainaut 41, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Bruselas (Bélgica)
Hours: Until 23th of December 2023

Jean Jullien is one of the most important illustrators of the last decade. He has exhibited his work in art galleries in Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore and beyond. His work has been on show at institutions such as the MAC Lyon or at Dongdaemun Design Plaza  in the centre of Seoul. And he has worked with hundreds of clients, including The New York TimesThe New YorkerThe GuardianLe MondeColetteNational GeographicLe Grand Palais, Le Centre PompidouAmnesty InternationalEsquireLe Coq SportifHotel AmourPetit Bateau, Vogue, among many others. Jean has also published numerous books with publishers such as teNeuesWalker BooksComme des Géants and Hato Press. In 2022, Phaidon published a monograph that covered his whole career, from his first creative associations to his evolution into painting, showing for the first time a vision of his process through unpublished drawings and sketches.

STUDIOLO, Jean Jullien’s first individual exhibition in Europe

STUDIOLO is an exhibition that celebrates the symbiotic relationship between language and art, and that displays the exceptional talent of Jean Jullien, one of our favourite artists. A kind of autobiographical novel painted straight on to the walls of the museum.

“This exhibition is a journey that reflects on human complexity, on our relationships with others and the environment.”

The professional journey of Jean Jullien is not very conventional. His creations range from illustrations, photography, videoart, costume design, site-specific art installations, and all kinds of objects such as jewellery thanks to Nounou, his brand that he created together with Jae Huh. A creative range that is diverse but consistent and that is nourished and inspired in modern life.

“Through texts and illustrations, or directly on the walls of his exhibitions, he creates an emotional framework around his paintings.”

The origin of Studiolo

Since the dawn of the Renaissance in the 14th century, in his book “De vita solitaria”, the Italian poet and scholar Petrarca revived the ancient idea that humanists should have a retreat in their homes where they could talk to God and muses. In the following century, the “studiolo” became a kind of study, a room dedicated to intellectual reflection and decorated with the master’s favourite subjects.

“The theme of Jean Jullien’s Studiolo is the search for happiness through the images of his nicest memories.”

Evoking happiness at the stroke of a brush

In a unique space of 900 sq m that is distributed over three floors, his creations are staged among comments and reflections, with the aim of establishing a dialogue between language and art. Thus getting the attendees to become completely immersed in his delirious universe, in true introspection, inviting them to laugh at and question contemporary topics such as consumerism, technology and human relationships.

With a style that is recognizable and comic-like, his colourful and minimalist illustrations are characterised by the use of an ironic, carefree visual vocabulary, that in turn reveals a deep sense of intimacy and evokes a common sentiment of empathy.

Apart from the series of portraits, the familiarity of his paintings is reinforced by the presence of anonymous silhouettes that our imagination can easily replace with our loved ones. Additionally, Jean Jullien employs all kinds of compositional tricks, such as extended landscapes, to invite us to fill those scenes with our own memories.

“Jean Jullien represents his intimacy to open a window out onto our own memories.”

The exhibition finishes on the top floor with a panoramic fresco, where the multifaceted French artist narrates the past and future of humankind. The subjective timeline, represented as a landscape, says a lot about both the artist and history in equal measure. It becomes a metaphor for the individual, a collection of personal and collective stories in perpetual motion.

Paintings and narratives

As we mentioned, as well as the intensity of the beautiful and moving paintings  many of which are in large format, they are accompanied by very personal handwritten texts that close the gap between the visual and the textual.

Throughout the exhibition area, the walls are decorated with painted comments that respond and talk to the surrounding works. These (con)textual expressions act as Jullien’s visual equivalents, offering an additional layer of interpretation and introspection. Each comment is carefully elaborated and harmoniously integrated, expressing the thoughts, observations and reflections of the artist.

“Joy resides in everything that surrounds us; we simply need to know how to extract it.” J. Jullien

Absolutely unmissable.

(*) Photo cover by Nikolai Saoulskis. The rest of the photos by Philippe de Gobert.