Gildas Flahault

© Jeff Pahun


Everyone I know knows, I can’t stand still. I have produced my work over the course of forty years of travelling, moving, moving, working in fifteen different workshops. However, this work is provided and very diversified because it has been nourished by experiences, travels, expeditions. It is diversified for a second reason: From the very beginning of my artistic activity, drawing and painting have become a profession. That is, economic autonomy. As my family grew, I had to create more and find ways to sell those creations.

It was exactly like a fairground that I sold my works, largely favoring “invented” exhibitions in singular places that I rented rather than through galleries. At twenty-five, on the advice of a friend, I went to Paris to look for a gallery there, but my regionalist subjects did not find an echo. In any case, nothing hindered my freedom. I could travel by sail or on foot and offer my images brought back to others. I dreamed of making a book.

I had that pleasure. I ended up with a number of beautiful books filled with my emotions in front of the splendor of the world.

The first of my travel diaries tells of the mysterious Kerguelen Islands, wild lands par excellence since they are located at the furthest point of the inhabited world from the mainland. I enjoyed writing the lyrics that sound like songs. This book, the “Storm Notebooks”, initiated a collection of travel diaries published by Glénat in which I brought authors as interesting as Yvon Le Corre and Benjamin Flao (Mamutus, Eritrea).

Les carnets tempête
Carnets Mongols

When I was eighteen, I was given a book of photographs taken in China by Eve Arnold. The last four pages showed herders from the Inner Mongolian steppes. These images captivated me, I discovered in these looks, an intensity that I attributed to the fact of never being stopped by a wall. A few years later, I discovered the magnificent film “Urga” by Nikita Mikhalkov. When I left the cinema, I decided to prepare again for this trip to the land of the blue wolf and the white doe. This second book, “Les carnets mongols” (published by Glénat) has beautiful images and a few inspired sentences, but the whole book suffers from a ridiculous use of the possibilities of Photoshop that I was discovering then. I even chose to write the texts in capital letters to evoke the Cyrillic alphabet, which makes them a little unreadable!

My third book recounts my discovery of Africa during a truly beautiful trip through Mali, along the Niger River. The aesthetic project was as follows: The eye-catching layouts of the travel diaries published without measure in those years bothered me because the use of computer tools made it possible to clean, select and finally sanitize the report of a travel designer.

Sur les rives du Niger

Basically, it just ended up looking like a nice travel agency catalog… A stamp here, a bus ticket there, all put together by a model maker sitting at his table. I dug up in the forgotten shelves of the Sénélier store, (quai de Seine, Paris) a very large album to draw which corresponded to what I wanted to use on my trip. The oldest of the warehousemen explained to me that it was of Italian manufacture and made of a paper specially ordered in Iran. Perfect, I needed a beautiful object because the pages of the book will be exactly those of the sketchbook. A facsimile. For anyone approaching it for the first time, Africa immediately shows all its purity and all its violence. She leaves no one indifferent.

In the small Malian village of Tamani, whose houses are built of earth, I drew the peasants working their fields, the children playing, the panoramic landscapes of the river. I also transcribed the activity of the port of Mopti and the streets of Ségou under the ocher walls of the great mosque. “Mali, on the banks of the Niger”, published by Les Presses de la Renaissance, was a publishing success.

The book quickly sold out and is no longer in the catalog. The editorial wave of the famous travel diaries was fizzling out and the publisher did not wish to republish the book. It has been a long time since we can no longer order this pretty little book but we can find some for sale on Amazon.

In 2005, the navigator Philippe Poupon offered me to bring back his travel sailboat “Fleur australe” which remains at anchor in the Malouines Islands (Falkland Islands). I could go up the Atlantic to Brittany, but I so want to see the Patagonian canals again that I would return following the Chilean and Peruvian coasts to pass the Panama Canal. Jalan editions promise me to publish what I bring back from this trip. “I Remember Men” was released in 2005, it won the National Travel Diary Award and the Albatros Award. Here again, it is a question of a facsimile, leaving the failed drawings, the traces of the coffee maker knocked over by a wave, to restore the atmosphere as accurately as possible. Another book not found in bookstores. You have to try your luck on the internet.

Je me souviens des hommes

“The Ice Ball”, published by Paulsen Editions, is my fourth book. It brings together the drawings and texts produced during two voyages in Greenland and on the northeastern coasts of Canada.

The prints offered for sale on this site are the result of forty years of artistic creation. Here you will find high-quality digital reproductions of paintings and watercolors made in the studio or while traveling. Some of these paintings can be reproduced in large formats (up to 200 cm). Others, more intimate, deserve to be reproduced in small formats. However, grouped by three or four, they provide a beautiful decorative effect.
In my favorite themes, we find the archetype of the sailor, the Gaucho, the Indian. Brittany, Tierra del Fuego, Chilean Patagonia, Greenland and its Inuits, the sea and wild nature. Although one recognizes my “leg” quite easily, one is sometimes surprised to discover images whose style does not correspond to the whole of the work.

Carnet de voyage

The poster is a sport! Ideally, in a single glance, a passerby should both be attracted by the image and understand what event it is about. When the organizer of an event orders a poster, he hastens to name everything that must appear on it, everything he wishes to offer to his public. The poster designer must reason with him: You can’t signify everything, you have to make a choice, find a generic image. I estimate to have produced about one hundred and twenty posters in the last thirty years. The great maritime event that has taken place in May for twenty years under the name “Gulf Week” has given me its confidence since day one. You will find on this site, all these posters of the “Gulf Week”. As the initiator with Patrick Saigot, Cedric Chauvaud and Eugène Riguidel of the very famous world sculling championship (Ile de Groix, Brittany) I made some good posters. For this unique championship in the world, other artists followed suit with great talent: Mr. QQ, Gaelle Flao, Benjamin Flao, Alice Aïssa). What would our championship be without the awesome and generous host Sebastien Barrier? There are lots of beautiful events happening on the small island of Groix: the oldest is not the least, it is the island film festival which takes place at the end of August. You can also participate in the natural wine fair which takes place in May, unless you prefer to attend the “Grande Traversée”, a small comic book festival which brings together the most famous French designers: Florence Cesnac, Vuillemin, Benjamin Flao, Damien Roudeau, Ciryl Pomés, Eric Salch, Yun Locard, Florent Grouazel and others, all under the benevolent authority of press cartoonist Willem. It is the Bistrot Bao which organizes and receives all these beautiful people for what is now known as “the off of Angoulême”!

If I manage to get my hands on my archives stored in foreign houses, I will post a few images retracing other creations that have kept me busy. I had a lot of fun decorating offshore racing boats (The 60′ monohull (Ecureuil Poitou-Charentes 2, for Isabelle Autissier and billionaire-adventurer Steve Fosset’s trimaran “Lakota”). The Fratellini circus academy produced a nautical show on the canal of st Denis on the occasion of the world championship of Athletics. I ensured the artistic direction of this event (“The port”) with the team of seamen of “Chien noir”, the navigator Eugène Riguidel and the many circacians. I would also like to find the photos of the citadel of Calvi whose walls I decorated with my “giant carpets”, during the festiventu, but also posters and scenographies designed for the Corderie royale de Rochefort.