Road signs with a twist Alison García Hall | Posted: 07 April 2016
Clet Abraham's street art in Pont Croix, Brittany

It was the laces on the give-way sign that confirmed it. Someone else on a bike had been through Pont Croix before us. Unlike us, though, he’d come at night, armed not with route notes and a map, but with vinyl, easy-to-remove stickers. Under the cover of darkness he had leaned his bike against the signpost, climbed up on it to reach the sign itself, and added a little flourish of his own. Et voilà, Clet Abraham’s street art was finished in the blink of an eye.

It all started when he moved to Florence and was hit by how out of place the functional, bland signs looked in such a graceful and elegant city. Not that his stickers render the signs beautiful, but they do make you stop and look, just as the more conventional works of art hanging in the Uffizi and other galleries do. They often also raise a smile.

Since then, Monsieur Abraham has managed to avoid any run-ins with the police (his girlfriend wasn’t so lucky on their visit to Japan) and has given a new interpretation to road signs in numerous European towns and cities, even New York. But, as his unusual Breton first name suggests, he grew up in the far north-west corner of France, so it was to be expected that at some point or other he would return to his native region to leave his unique mark.

Perhaps it’s his self-confessed rebellious streak, but Clet Abraham seems to be particularly drawn to no-entry signs. Besides the three we saw in Pont Croix (see above), elsewhere the stern-looking white bar of the sign has been made to look as if it is being hauled away by a man, hugged by someone in uniform, soiled by a bird perching on it, eaten by Pac Man, chiselled by a sculptor, covered in a mass of flowers, snipped by scissors (this particular one was outside a hairdresser’s) and replaced by words such as liberi  (‘free’ in Italian).

That’s not to say that other types of sign don’t inspire him. Thus a one-way-ahead sign was turned into an angel thanks to the replacement of the arrow’s point with a head and a halo, and a no-cycling sign seemed to smile down on all those who passed beneath it because of the addition of a thin black arc which turned the bike into a happy-looking cartoon face. Simple modifications which transform signs while leaving them completely recognisable for what they are. Whatever your views on what constitutes art, you’ve got to admit it’s clever.

Related Holidays

Brittany’s Land’s End

Assuming that the Breton authorities continue to indulge the modified signs, you can see Clet Abraham’s street art in Pont Croix for yourself on our Brittany’s Land’s End cycling holiday, which takes in the picturesque lighthouses, sandy beaches and medieval chapels that characterise the quieter side of Brittany near Finistère.

More about our cycling holiday in Brittany >

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