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Pharrell Williams’ Collaborative Art Exhibition with Japanese Artist Mr. in Paris

Pharrell Williams’ Collaborative Art Exhibition with Japanese Artist Mr. in Paris

  • Partnering with Mr., the duo have fused Japanese pop-culture with an important message about the new generation

It has been over 12 months in the making since the world renowned French museum, Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts announced the collaborative exhibition. Curated by Pharrell Williams in partnership with Mr., the highly anticipated presentation has come to fruition and for any anime fanatic, it’s worth a visit to the Parisian outpost.

Mr., left and Pharrell Williams in the installation “A Call to Action” at the Guimet Museum in Paris.CreditCreditMr./KK; Julien Mignot for The New York Times

American R&B artist Pharrell Williams launched an art installation in Paris on Wednesday (July 10).

Williams, who co-curated the exhibition by Japanese visual artist Mr. at the Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts, interacted with 20 children from selected charities who showed Williams their own artworks.

The installation, titled ‘A Call to Action’, featured manga-style figures in military uniforms in a multimedia installation with sculpture, painting and electronic elements.

“If a person is disconnected from their inner child, they will see this work and wake up,” Mr. Williams said.CreditMr./KK; Julien Mignot for The New York Times

The single-room exhibition is bright and deliberately chaotic: Visitors step onto plastic sheets splashed with paint, with blocks of concrete and drawings scattered around the floor. Large-scale paintings and figurines are dwarfed by even larger graffiti and neon signs. The main figures in this post-apocalyptic scene are young boys and girls, and most of them are carrying multicolored guns.

Mr. is a Japanese contemporary artist whose work focuses on the Japanese animation style manga and the themes of youth and dreams. Since the catastrophic 2011 earthquake in Japan, his work has included more violent imagery and become more realistic.

Credit: © MR./KAIKAI KIKI CO., LTD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. COURTESY PERROTIN

Mr. produced the work over five years in response to a pitch from Mr. Williams, who described his vision in loose terms in Paris. “What is the future and how do we get there? If we didn’t get there, what would prevent us?” The answer to the last question was “the bad decisions of grown-ups,” on a range of issues including climate change and the lack of gun regulation in the United States, he said.

The role of art curator is still a relatively new one for Mr. Williams. In 2014, he curated his first group exhibition, “G I R L,” which was presented at the Galerie Perrotin in Paris and featured Mr. among peers including the French conceptualist Sophie Calle and the street artist JR.

In an Instagram post coinciding with its opening, Williams said, “This is a call to action. An artistic response to imagine a better planet. What kind of world do we want for our kids? Kids embodied hope. Kids show us the future.”

The exhibition is now open until September 23. To learn more, head to the Guimet National Museum of Asian Arts’ website and in the meantime tune into the making of the exhibition below.

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