Julien Friedler he is an eclectic artist, who expresses himself in various mediums, including writing and painting.
All his installations also have a great symbolic meaning, works in which the Belgian artist combines paintings with objects and Schnarks, bizarre jesters who populate the artist's studio in Brussels: these are creations that are the deformed or fantastic personification of dreams more disturbing, or legendary heroes who inhabit unknown worlds.
It is undoubtedly one of Friedler's most significant installations Les Innocents (2000, original work 9×11 m), a work that represents a powerful evocation of captivity which, as the art critic Dominique Stella explains “in the course of its elaboration, it acquired the characteristics of a concentration camp in which the symbol of violated and abused childhood reaches the memory of the martyrdom of the Jewish people . There is, however, no desire to comment, no will to recall the fate of the Jewish people. In this installation Friedler wants to do emerge the universality of suffering which has always been reproduced and repeated in the madness and violence of men. We are dealing here with an expiatory gesture in which the artist invests his own redemptive forces.”
Unlike paintings, which are often the result of an immediate and instinctive expression, the creation of this installation - which was also presented, slightly modified, in Spoleto as part of the personal exhibition Back Boz of 2016 – kept Friedler busy for several months. The scene is constructed by enhancing some elements with a strong symbolic value: there is barbed wire, soft toys, school desks. Friedler himself describes it as “a staging that is certainly tragic but also playful, I used the language of extremes: childhood and death, it is the Shoah, of course, but also a metaphor for imprisoned childhood ... of all the children of the world killed and injured in their innocence".
The cage in the center of the installation is occupied by a schnark which assumes particular importance for Friedler: it is Jack Balance (1998), his alter ego.
«I need Jack Balance – says Julien Friedler – probably because I love being aloof from the world. I am shy and solitary, and therefore I have developed a device that allows me to say and do what I would never be able to express and do».
Jack Balance symbolizes man's struggle to exist , in terrible dependence on his Creator. Jack Balance is locked up in a cage from which he escapes to travel around the world. To exist, he must continually cheat, protest, rebel. Jack Balance is a frustrated clown who asks himself existential questions, traveling the planet in a mystical quest.
Jack Balance embodies Consciousness , and it is around him that, not surprisingly, the entire installation revolves.