Gilles Trehin is a 34 year old Frenchman who has created a city in his mind called Urville. In more that 200 drawings, he has crafted a city with an elaborate history reaching back to before the Middle Ages, complete with an entire culture that includes religious, political, and economic records. The city’s life is mapped out with information about its universities, industries, and cultural events. Gilles, who has been diagnosed as autistic but probably has an autistic spectrum condition called Asperger’s Syndrome, is an angelic looking man who hopes to make a living as an artist. He also has perfect pitch and an interest in prime numbers. His first word, at three years old, was “airplane.”
Earlier stories about Gilles have focused on his autism, making him sound like an inordinately gifted chimp. After watching this video of him, I see that he is an intelligent but somewhat otherworldly young man with a truly beautiful spirit. His drawings are awe-inspiring, and his prodigious intelligence is very moving to behold — for me, anyway. Rather than being a poster-boy for the disabled, Gilles Trehin is a multi-gifted genius who should be celebrated as such. You can see some of drawings here at the Kircher Society, (whose dedication to “the wondrous” makes it a delightful website to visit.)
Gilles Trehin’s book, Urville, published by Jessica Kingsley, is available from Amazon.com and directly from the publisher.