Digressions pariétales roughly translates to "parietal digressions," which you might have been able to figure out on your own as opposed to my Google translate search. And yet in the case of Jean Julien's newest installation at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Lyon, France, the work is what he calls an "interrogation of tourism and movement, exploring the artist's own relationship with landscape and leisure through painting and drawing."


This particular presentation fits into the universe of Jean Jullien so well, with black and white sketches surrounded by large paintings of beach scenes and ocean movements. But this presentation side by side is particularly clever if you know Jean's career. The sketches are more of his political, cultural single cel works he has created on his Instagram for years, sometimes silly, sometimes observational commentary, but always with an intellectual yet fun critique. The paintings he makes, the ones that show up in the numerous international shows he has, are more quiet, what he calls "serene and contemplative." Jean also sees the paintings as a romantic take on the relationship between humans and their surroundings.

What is so wonderful about this exchange between the styles of works he is showing in Lyon is how this becomes a metaphor of our own sharing lives. The paintings feel like the life we want to lead and the sketches more of the reality; bursts of energy and instant gratification. Jean says of the black and white works that they serve as "a framework by which the artist can question the ramifications of one’s relationship to nature — our fascination with it and our desire to conquer and mark it." I also see this as a way to conquer our own habits and 21st century participants: what do we share, what is our relationship with each other and the Earth, how do we live a more serene, contemplative life? Maybe this is the digression we need to have with ourselves. —Evan Pricco

Digressions pariétales was created as part of the group show "Comme un parfum d’aventure,” which includes the works of Marina Abramović, Guillaume Bijl, Jean Dubuffet,  Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Yoko Ono, Erwin Wurm and many more.