Jeans for Refugees at Saatchi Gallery
Today, bulldozers are entering the migrant camp at Calais, commonly referred to as the “jungle”, to raze the shanty town built there to the ground. Over the channel in London, the Saatchi Gallery is holding an event designed to help thousands of those displaced people.
The artist behind the Jeans for Refugees initiative, Johny Dar, is not in London celebrating the launch of his new show. Instead, he is in Calais, helping people as they lose their temporary homes. He said, “I can’t stand by and celebrate the Jeans for Refugees exhibition in London while the Calais camp is being demolished. It’s a harsh reality that is very current and close, and it’s happening right now. My art is in the Saatchi Gallery delivering a message and a call to action – but once I heard the demolition starts on the same day as the Saatchi show, I knew where I had to be.”
For the exhibition, 100 pairs of jeans have been donated by celebrities such as Emma Watson, Sir Elton John, Harry Styles, Julianne Moore and Victoria Beckham. Dar has painted each pair with elaborate patterns, and they are all up for auction in order to raise money to help refugees.
Jeans are a versatile wardrobe staple for almost everyone, regardless of income, nationality and stage of life. Dar’s message seems to be that every human life is equally valuable, whether the individual is a superstar or a homeless refugee child. It’s a powerful message that is brought home by the slightly ghostly rows of jeans on show at the Saatchi, empty of their famous owners.
Alongside the painted jeans, the artist is also showing a number of paintings from a series entitled “Paradise”. Through these colourful abstract works, Dar offers a glimpse of a better world, where human experiences are positively interwoven and humanitarian crises are solved before they even happen. For this utopia to be realised, however, Dar suggests that we need radically to change our ways.
Jeans for Refugees is at the Saatchi Gallery from 24th until 30th October 2016, for further information visit here.
For further information about Johny Dar visit here.