Photographer: Pascal Colrat | Title: The New Marianne
Poster Artist Pascal Colrat Responds to Tragedy in Paris
Pascal Colrat, a French activist and poster designer, was one of nearly 3.7 million people who rallied together across France after a tragedy that threatened the country’s freedom of expression. His art, he says, reflects his personal outrage.
On the morning of Jan. 7, 2015, two masked gunmen armed with AK-47s stormed the office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. They fired sporadically and ultimately killed 12 people. Authorities believe an irreverent cartoon that showed a Muslim man kissing a cartoonist triggered the attack. The caption read, ‘L’amour: Plus fort que la haine,” or “Love: Stronger than hate.”
Colrat had worked with Tignous, a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist who was killed in this tragedy. Their work had been displayed in the same exhibition. “I found him to possess a certain kind of elegance, full of humanity, humor,” Colrat wrote to Graphis.
The tragedy was very personal to him. “I reacted instinctively,” Colrat wrote. “I used the only mode of expression that is mine: the image.” Colrat’s pencil image (below right) was printed for a rally in Bordeaux. He also distributed his protest work on social media and through email.
The French are still without voice, informed only by the media, he wrote. “Art is a liberating space. It remains the more spontaneous tool that we can use, stronger and simpler than prolonged speech.”
Photographer: Pascal Colrat | Posters created for the Charlie Hebdo rallies
Graphis: The poster with the fist — What is the significance of the quote, “Dans courage il y a rage,” or translated, “In courage there is rage”?
Colrat: It is a word game. If you look at the spelling of the word courage, you’ll see the word, ‘rage.’ I believe that we must react quickly to put an end to the rise of religious extremism in France. I think that anger must produce the courage to see the situation clearly, and the refusal to accept the rules of the French Republic, of secularism.
The infringement of freedom of expression doesn’t stop there [Editor’s note: Just a few days after the Charlie Hebdo shooting, four Jews were killed in a Jewish grocery store in Paris.] We must fight to preserve our freedom of opinion and expression, and refuse the anti-Semitism that is growing increasingly strong in France.
Graphis: The pencil poster — What was your initial thought process in creating this?
Colrat: The freedom of expression will never die in France. It is the foundation of our Republic and even beyond; it is a legacy of the Enlightenment with Voltaire, Rousseau and even before Moliere. I wanted to say simply that our flag remains standing, despite the hatred of the shooting. The pencil, a symbol of drawing and of the Charlie Hebdo drawings, was transformed into a strong flag that signifies freedom, equality and brotherhood.