To make people free is the aim of art, therefore, art for me is the science of freedom.”
– German artist Joseph Beuys
For Joseph Beuys, art was a window to freedom. But Julien de Casabianca says that it is art that needs to be freed.
And so, this French and Corsican visual artist has been travelling across the globe for the past five years, freeing individuals trapped inside old canvases and museums to live, breathe and communicate in the open streets.
Sounds like magic? It is to some.
So, equipped with his magical aids—a camera, printing paper, glue and brushes—he walks around dark alleys and narrow by-lanes in search of the perfect home for the rescued.
This is the Outings Project, a global movement that was started in 2014 to make ‘high art’ on the city walls for all to experience.
Many museums from around the world, like the Cummer Museum in Jacksonville (USA), the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (USA), the Geneva Museum of Art (Switzerland), and The Ixelles-Brussels Museum, have invited him to reference their pieces for his work.
Since then, the 48-year-old journalist and filmmaker has ‘pasted’ paintings in 40 different cities across 19 countries. The pictures of his work are available on his website.
He says that he seeks to free beauty from restriction, and so he photographs the portraits of individuals trapped in tall-walled museums and frees their printed manifestations on weathered and crumbling walls, restoring their raw charm.
According to Julien, the art inside the walls of museums and galleries is a symbol of knowledge and value. Something that is selectively accessible and represents privilege. By taking it out into the streets, he aims to awaken its pure aesthetic virtue of beauty—something which everyone needs, he says.
And that is why Julien has consciously placed his art across the world, pasting it, especially in neglected and poor neighbourhoods.
What started as an individual attempt to spread beauty has now evolved into a movement with the project inviting participation from across the world. All you need to do is have a camera, a printer and an unbridled sense of aesthetics.
In a world entangled in divided definitions of ‘high’ art, street art and vandalism, Julien’s art has found a middle ground. While his work reaches out to beautify and value the erstwhile neglected and damaged corners of cities, thus guarding itself against the tag of ‘vandalism’, it also dilutes the divide by using intricate and sometimes iconic paintings.
From preparing the larger-than-life or life-size prints to meticulously cutting out the backgrounds of the images while preserving the characters within, his work has gathered awe and appreciation all over.
Under his hand, the imperfections of weathered walls turn into raw canvases where he applies strokes of glue to paste photographs of deities, Mughal emperors, queens, kings and many more—all blending seamlessly into the surroundings.
The princess once peeping from the jharokha and trapped in the chambers of wooden frames is now set free. She, and many like her, are no longer distant, hung up as lifeless objects on posh walls.
Thanks to this artist, they now breathe among the living—in front of your door or beside a window—as silent neighbours observing the world in its entirety!
To know more about Julien and his art, check out his website.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)