If a picture says a thousand words, then it can express so much more than 140 characters.
Following the terrorist atrocities that took place in Paris on Friday, an illustration by Jean Jullien (above) was picked up across social media to show solidarity, compassion – even hope, perhaps – with and for the people of France, and for friends and family across the world of those who died and were injured.
Peace for Paris is a simple painting produced in a few strokes, combining the Eiffel Tower with the symbol of peace that started life as the logo for Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Its message is simple too – but one that everyone can respond too: We want peace. We want these attacks to stop.
(And for many of us, also, we don’t want mindless reprisals against Muslims just because a relatively few murderers claim to follow the same Prophet.)
Peace for Paris has been shared over 47,000 times – including by people with huge numbers of followers like Chris Rock and Katy Perry. It was also popular as a profile picture on Facebook before that network created a tool to let people superimpose the Tricolore over their own photo in a single click.
This isn’t the first time that Jean’s work has resonated with so many people after a terrorist attack. His painting Je Suis Charlie (below)– featuring a pencil being inserted into the barrel of an AK-47 – was widely shared after the attack on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January.
The power and reach of Jean’s images are perhaps surprising seeing as he’s best known for commercial work such as the illustration used by Eurostar, and his fine artworks often show how technology is making us disconnected from the world – something that the scale of the sharing ofPeace for Paris and Je Suis Charlie perhaps shows to be wrong. He’s also recently illustrated his first children’s book, Hoot Owl.
But across all these forms, there’s a clarity of message that contrasts with the seeming naivety of his painting style.
We can but hope that Jean can stick to satirical and fun art and illustrations – he never has to produce another work like Peace for Paris or Je Suis Charlie again.