French visual artist Jean Jullien to present RIFIFI: Jean Jullien for Kids

French visual artist Jean Jullien to present RIFIFI: Jean Jullien for Kids

RIFIFI: Jean Jullien for Kids will transform NGV’s dedicated kids’ gallery into a bold and graphic underwater world designed by prodigious French visual artist Jean Jullien. Presented as part of NGV Triennial 2023, RIFIFI: Jean Jullien for Kids is an NGV-exclusive presentation and is the first time Jullien has exhibited in Australia. 

Jullien is renowned for his irreverent observations of everyday life, which he captures in an idiosyncratic illustrative style characterised by black brushstrokes and bold block colour. His singular aesthetic has garnered him a cult-like following, including more than 1.2 million dedicated followers on Instagram. His practice traverses painting, illustration, photography, video, costume, installations, books, posters and clothing. In 2016, Jullien launched Nounou with Jae Huh, a Korea-based label producing a wide range of items including clothing, graphic objects, rugs and dolls. 

Jullien has exhibited extensively around the world, including presentations in Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York and Berlin. Recent exhibitions include a large-scale public installation of sculptural graphic figures at Le Jardin des Plantes in Nantes, France (2020); a joint exhibition with his brother, Nicolas, at Tokyo’s Nanzuka Underground gallery (2023); and a major retrospective at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul (2022). He has created popular illustrations for The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Guardian and recently published his first self-titled monograph with global art book publisher Phaidon.  

Inspired by the artist’s childhood trips to the beach and a passion for caring for the marine environment, RIFIFI: Jean Jullien for Kids invites young visitors to engage with and explore an immersive and interactive scenography designed in Jullien’s signature aesthetic. The exhibition will feature unique hands-on activities conveying how children’s actions can protect the ocean and marine life.  

A new NGV Kids book Who lives in the sea? is illustrated by Jullien and features some of his favourite ocean inhabitants including sea squirts, sardines, squid, and spotted eels.  

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said:‘Over the past two decades, Jean Jullien has established a bold graphic style that shares his observations of the world around him with wit and humour. RIFIFI: Jean Jullien for Kids will be the largest and most ambitious kids’ exhibition the NGV has ever staged and reflects our ongoing commitment to collaborating with artists and designers at the top of their fields to create world-class art experiences for our young visitors.’ 

Of the work Jean Jullien said: ‘For as long as I remember the ocean’s had a very strong impact on me. Rock pools and the intense imagery of the aquatic fauna and flora filled my imagination from an early age. With roots in Lesconil, a small fishing village in the west of France, I grew accustomed to documenting the seaside in my sketchbooks, then in paintings.  

RIFIFI is a fantastic opportunity for me to pour all these drawings onto the walls of the NGV to create what I hope will be a thrilling underwater installation with tailored activities to share my love of anything aquatic! I have two kids and we marvel together at what life lies beneath the blue drape of water, play in waves and enjoy sailing on my father’s fishing boat. I hope RIFIFI will engage our little sea explorers and teach them to love and respect the ocean.’ 

RIFIFI: Jean Jullien for Kids is part of NGV Triennial 2023, opening on 3 December. The exhibition is a powerful and moving snapshot of the world today as captured through the work of over 120 artists, designers, and collectives at the forefront of global contemporary practice. Uniquely bringing art, design, and architecture into dialogue with one another and traversing all four levels of NGV International, the NGV Triennial features nearly 100 projects including over 25 world-premiere projects commissioned by the NGV.  

The NGV Triennial is on display from 3 December 2023 – 7 April 2024 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Entry is FREE. Further information is available via the NGV website: NGV.MELBOURNE