Street artist JR unveils optical illusion artwork in Rome

The work is part of the restoration taking place at the Palazzo Farnese, home to the French embassy in the Italian capital

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French street artist JR unveiled a large-scale trompe l’oeil installation in Rome that turns a building inside-out, showing its interiors via a monochrome mural on the facade.

Located in central Rome, the Palazzo Farnese has been leased by the French government since 1936 and houses the Embassy of France. The building is undergoing a four-year restoration at the cost of €5.6 million, thus scaffolding has been installed around the perimeter, which is what JR’s mural covers up.

Titled Punto di Fuga (vanishing point), the work gives viewers a "peek" into the halls of the palace, which is filled with columns and arches adorned with classical figures. Measuring 6,500 square feet, the mural looks as though a piece of the facade has been ripped off to reveal the interior.

The artist told Agence France-Presse: “The palace is not open to everyone … there are rooms and areas that can’t be seen. This is one way of opening up the building. It reveals [original] frescoes and arches that no longer exist.”

JR’s work is part of a larger project by the French embassy, which launched a contemporary art programme for the restoration. During the course of the project, artists will explore the building’s history with site-specific creations.

As part of the initiative, another French artist, Olivier Grossetete, showcased a sculptural work last month in the form of an 18-metre cardboard bridge held up by white balloons and seemingly floating over the River Tiber.

Punto di Fuga is only one of JR’s many public projects. In June, he revealed on social media that he is working on an installation at the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Commissioned by Art D’Egypte, the work is expected to be finished by October, and will be part of a major exhibition, Forever is Now, at the site of the Pyramids.

Updated: August 05, 2021, 3:57 PM