A conversation with
Affiche des Rencontres d'Arles 2002
Affiche des Rencontres d'Arles 2003
Affiche des Rencontres d'Arles 2004
Affiche des Rencontres d'Arles 2005
Affiche des Rencontres d'Arles 2006
Affiche des Rencontres d'Arles 2007
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Affiche des Rencontres d'Arles 2009
Affiche des Rencontres d'Arles 2010
Affiche des Rencontres d'Arles 2011
Fruits, vegetables, animals… These funny and colorful pictures invade Arles every year for the festival des Rencontres de la Photographie. This graphic identity was a choice made by Michel Bouvet, graphic and poster artist. This year, for the 10th anniversary of the new Rencontres d’Arles, the festival wanted to honor this artist with two exhibitions: the first at the SNCF workshop to share the artist’s creative process and the second, at the Abbaye Montmajour features a more complete panorama of the artist’s work.
The first poster you designed for the Rencontres d’Arles featured a hot pepper. Can you tell us how this came about?
During my first meeting with François Hébel, I told him that I did not want to use a photograph to illustrate the poster. Most festivals use photos, I voluntarily chose to use a different angle. I found a different technique, one using more graphic lines and bright colors, with dark lines and dots in homage to Liechtenstein’s work. I also chose color to represent the city, yellow being a predominant color used throughout Arles. The hot pepper, as still life, a reference to painting.
Then came peas, lemons, eggplants, carrots, then suddenly, animals with the cat, the rhinoceros… and today, the zebu; why these choices?
I elaborated on the still life using fruits and vegetables, before becoming inspired by portraits of cats, the rhinoceros… I wasn’t just looking for a logical representation of the festival, but a work process, one that was very long to put into place. The colors are always very lively, voluntarily detached from their subject matter, which explains how the cat or the rhinoceros became pink and the zebu, blue!
Each time, I brought twenty preparatory sketches to the director, and the final selection was always the result of a group deliberation, a sort of Liturgy of sketches. They were conscious choices, deliberately incongruous.
The reactions to these posters are often heated, even critical. How do you react?
I don’t think it’s possible to please everyone. It would be worrisome if we did. I am pleased with the reactions, whether positive or negative. In 2007, there were those who hated the cat, which was good: it proved that it was provocative! Nevertheless, each year, the poster is eagerly anticipated, like a game. Everyone sees what they want: a cow or a zebu, a bird or a rooster, a hippopotamus or a rhinoceros!…
Rencontres d’Arles 2011
July 4th - September 18th
Atelier de Maintenance
10am – 7pm
July 6th - September 18th
Abbaye de Montmajour
10am – 6.30pm