One of the slashed pictures from the exhibition. Photo: Thibault Stipal/Facebook
A series of blown-up portraits of straight and gay couples kissing has been vandalized in western France, with the artist himself questioning whether romance in France was only a "heterosexual concept".
Could France be losing it's title as the country of romance?
This is the country where you're likely to see locals and tourists alike engaged in the most passionate of embraces... where films, TV series, and photographs have become famous for their own versions of the "French kiss".
But this could all be changing, or at least in the western town of Royan in Charente-Maritime. There, at least one local has apparently struggled to accept seeing images of people kissing.
The portraits, taken by artist Thibault Stipal, show topless people with varying skin colours, sexual preferences, and ages sharing kisses. They were erected near a children's park and were slashed up over the weekend.
(Another of the slashed pictures from the exhibition. Photo: Thibault Stipal/Facebook)
The artist has now taken to his Facebook page
to share images of the damage, telling his fans the act left him "saddened" - but explained that it's not all been negative reviews.
"Some people have written love messages on the photos and others have cut it with knives," he told The Local on Wednesday.
And he suspects that it was the images of same-sex kissers that riled the vandals.
"Maybe French romance is a heterosexual concept because people here have got a real problem with gays I think," he added.
"People who disagree with my exhibition tell that it's because it was installed in a park where children play but it's hypocrisy. There's nothing shocking in my project, it's simply photos of people kissing."
While he added that he was sure the vandals were only "a small percentage" of the public, their actions mean the damage won't be repaired.
Royan's deputy mayor Didier Quentin told BFMTV that
the "foolish act of intolerance" mean art would not reappear this summer, as the costs of reproducing the work and the risk of repeat attacks were too high.