Tuesday, 4 June 2013

A Pigeon's Eye View of Paris

Patrice Rambaud aka 'L'œil du pigeon' is a trained architect and talented urban illustrator with a fantastic eye for Paris. He has already self-published an atmospheric and offbeat look at the city's 20th arrondissement - but he needs your help to complete the other 19 districts!

"All of the pictures are sketches that I do as I'm walking around the city, and are of places that are striking in some way" says Patrice. When choosing the 40 or so spots that will make up the book of a particular arrondissement he tries to select places that will be immediately recognisable - and others that may have people scratching their heads.

To those who claim that they don't recognise the area of Paris in which they live from his sketches, Patrice replies tant mieux. "If it makes them discover places they don't know or to which they don't normally pay attention, so much the better," he adds.


Although the buildings of the 20th arrondissement may not suffer from an over-visibility, even here Patrice finds unusual angles and interesting perspectives. The architect's eye picks out lines and patterns whilst the eye of the flâneur picks out the often unseen traces of life in the city.

Life - and the initially apparent lack of it - is one of the important themes of his sketches. Patrice admits that certain people have found his pictures a little melancholic, but as he points out, there is actually an abundance of life suggested in the scenes. "The main focus is the architecture" he explains, "but it is also possible to represent city life without drawing people."

Rue des Pyrenées

Café terraces are empty, but the just finished coffees and recently stubbed out cigarettes have not yet been removed. The motorway at the Porte de Bagnolet is bizarrely car free, but what looks like lush vegetation stands alongside the road. On the long staircase of the Jourdain Metro station, a figure is about to disappear out of site. In other pictures there are illuminated traffic lights, broken bottles, parked cars - and of course a pigeon or two!

All sketches are done with Rotring pens Patrice tells me, a tool that enables him to work with very fine and delicate lines. Although all pictures are done on site and without any drafts, he does add colour later - even if he limits this to only one particular colour by arrondissement.

In the 20th, this colour is an amber orange. Whilst this brings sunlight into some pictures, it is also a row of wooden posts in a park, a dozen bottles, chimney pots on rooftops and the M of the Metro. It will be interesting to see how he incorporates the other shades into the other districts of the city, highlighting the universal and the exceptional through a splash of just one  colour.

Patrice has already selected the sketches for his next series of books - the 19th, 18th, 11th and 10th arrondissements, but he needs additional finance in order to make these reality. He has launched a crowdfunding appeal on KissKissBankBank and is already nearly 50% of the way to his target. Funders will receive anything from a book of their choice to an original sketch of their favourite Paris location, depending on the amount they donate. They will also have the satisfaction of having helped to complete a unique and elegant view of the city.

The first Oeil du Pigeon book on the 20th arrondissement can be found in bookshops in and around that district of Paris. Patrice will be presenting the book this Saturday June 8th at the Merle Moqueur bookshop (51 rue de Bagnolet, M°Alexandre Dumas) from 4pm.

Help Patrice publish the other books by donating on KissKissBankBank.

Find out more about Patrice on loeildupigeon.com

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