Jean Jullien


Kantor Gallery is pleased to present a new solo exhibition by Paris based artist Jean Jullien. The show will be on view at the gallery from February 16 – March 15, 2022.

To les Français, “chut” is an invitation to be quiet, their onomatopoeic “shh.” It’s perhaps the most efficient way to achieve silence in France. Add an “e” and you get “chute,” a word that means “fall” in French” or “water slide” in English. To an American, “shoot” is many things, but mainly it’s a euphemism for “oh, crap.”

Each of these interpretations function as a Choose Your Own Adventure at Jean Jullien’s “Chut,” the artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles at Kantor Gallery. It’s a title that, when applied to surfing, makes clear the totality of the sport’s contradictions. In the show’s lead image, a faceless surfer is either dropping into a wave on his board or barrelling feet-first into the sea; a clever Rubin’s vase of ambiguity becomes a Rorsrarch test for each viewer. Seconds make the difference between an ocean’s tranquil serenity and its brute-force, between a pop-up on the board or a wipe out. Which do you choose to see? Such is the Tao of Jean Jullien: a stylistic double entendre that tugs at the heart strings and coaxes a smile.

On view through March 12, Jullien’s 10 new paintings are a study in surfing’s rituals, joys, pangs, triumphs, and reliefs. The exhibit expands on the artist’s prolific seascape series and demonstrates a qualitative jump within the fine arts. It also shows that it’s never too late in life to try something new. Five years ago, Jullien picked up a paint brush around the same time he first paddled out on a surfboard. He had also just had a child. The confluence of these three new identities—painter, surfer, father—represented a new lease on life, and the ocean offered a kind of second baptism.

A painting is a suggestion, an intimation of a story rather than an outline. Perhaps that’s why Jullien’s beachgoers remain faceless, or why his life-size sculptures—like cut-out paper dolls—stay two-dimensional. Water always reflects and refracts our world back to us. Culled from stolen beach scenes in Brittany, France, “Chut” is another chance at healing, this time with salt water. Like painting, surfing is taught only to a certain point. And while there are social moments, it’s mainly a solitary practice, a quiet exchange, where showing up and waiting for your muse (or wave) is 90% of the job. In art and in water, you get what you give.

By Mariella Rudi

Jean Jullien (1983) was born in Nantes, France. He studied in London, graduating from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2008, and earning a Master’s from the Royal College of Art in 2010. Working as an illustrator and providing works to various clients including the New York Times, National Geographic, RCA Records, Le Center Pompidou, Hermès, Petit Bateau, and Vogue, Jullien has most recently exhibited work at Nanzuka Underground, Tokyo, Japan, Parco Museum Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan, Alice Gallery, Brussels, Belgium and Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon, France.

“Chut” is on view from February 16 – March 15, 2022. For any inquiries or book an appointment to view the exhibition, please contact [email protected]