“This series is setting the scene in the historic district Montmartre, well known for being a very active artistic stage in the early 20th century in Paris. Although daily reality is changing there, this place remains a source of inspiration with a powerful legacy.”
Rakajoo’s Paris is the one of the Moulin Rouge and Montmartre, those popular neighborhoods with festive nightlife. With “City of Lights”, his first solo exhibition in China at Danysz Shanghai, the Parisian artist paints an intimate portrait of his city: a realistic Paris, the Paris known for its spectacular parties and its café terraces, which could be described as a restful asylum, like a reassuring case that allows one to take the time to observe the world through the prism of a glass.
Rakajoo's Paris is also the link he maintains with the masters of modern art such as Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec, to whom he pays a penetrating tribute. Inspired by the image of the City of Lights drawn up before him by these illustrious painters who have marked the history of art and who have fed his inspiration, Rakajoo opens the doors of his intimacy, painting the places that are familiar to him, those in which he grew up, those that he has fantasized about and that are dear to him.
The exhibition “City of Lights” postulates that Rakajoo, named by Télérama « The Toulouse-Lautrec of Château Rouge [A Parisian District near Montmartre] » in 2021, is indeed part of an artistic filiation with these major artists of modernity. The self-taught artist invites us to dive into the heart of the French capital and unveils new works representing an ode to the City of Lights, which sparkles with a thousand colors of light, echoing the views of Pudong from the famous Bund. Like an obviousness for the painter, who from one city to another carries us by the magic of artificial lights, the analogy between Shanghai and Paris becomes henceforth an evidence.
A multi-faceted artist, Rakajoo excels in the art of composition: his canvas become the support of a true narrative turning the painter into a storyteller. More than venues, he represents atmospheres, realizing oil and acrylic paintings in which he likes to tell stories and lives.
Through “City of Lights”, the visitor follows the artist in his urban wanderings in the heart of the French capital, crossing a street, taking the subway, or stopping at a café terrace: a philosophy, a typically Parisian way of sharing common living spaces. Each one discovers contemporary scenes of the Parisian daily life, in his works. It is a question there for the artist, of seizing the moment with his brush focusing on the anecdotal and the intimate going beyond the representation of the great spectacle.
In his monumental work “Chemins Croisés,” the artist takes us into the mythical Moulin Rouge and we find ourselves in the audience. By the means of his multiple points of escape, he attracts the glance everywhere at once without ever settling. We find ourselves looking for the dancers, following a waiter, then accessing to the most intimate part of the venue: a view of the warm-up in the backstage. Following the example of Toulouse-Lautrec who also immortalized the Moulin Rouge in his unforgettable paintings, Rakajoo makes us fully live the experience. In front of his work, it becomes possible to feel the contagious gaiety of the French Cancan on which the legs of the dancers rise enthusiastically to the rhythm of the lively music.
Nevertheless, while belonging to this French pictorial tradition, he also manages to free himself from it to offer something personal and contemporary. If he walks in the footsteps of his predecessors, if he follows the same places, and claims their legacy with fervor and admiration, Rakajoo does not remain less influenced by the aesthetics of his time by daring to propose an inclusive and innovative form of representation.
Rakajoo graduated from the Art & Image department of Kourtrajmé School, founded by JR and director Ladj Ly. All at once painter, animation designer, author of comics and boxing champion, he realizes in 2018 an exhibition on the theme of sport at the request of the Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation. Various group exhibitions followed, including one at the Palais de Tokyo in 2020, “Jusqu'ici tout va bien.” In March 2021, he was invited to hold his first solo exhibition, Les Trois Châteaux, at Danysz gallery.