In recent years, Brussels has seen the creation of several new murals created by street artists and supported by various regional institutions. At the initiative of the Brussels- Capital Region, the City of Brussels, Brussels’ Public Centre for Social Welfare (CPAS) and Saint-Pierre Hospital, a new mural was created as part of the region’s Relaunch Plan. It pays tribute to the daily work of hospital staff in the face of the health crisis. This new mural is an opportunity to review some of the capital’s most emblematic and symbolic murals.
1. Homages to medical staff
These days, the health crisis is on everyone’s mind. In spite of the negative consequences it has had, it has also brought people closer together, reinstated the importance of human beings and highlighted essential professions. This is what the latest mural, whose inauguration has been postponed due to the current health crisis. The City of Brussels and visit.Brussels are committed to reorganising a ceremony in the presence of CHU Saint-Pierre and CPAS staff, once the upsurge in new infections has subsided.
The mural, located at rue de l’Abricotier 7 Abrikozenboomstraat, was commissioned by the Brussels-Capital Region and the City of Brussels, with the support of Saint Pierre Hospital and the CPAS of Brussels. It was produced by collective 7e GAUCHE, composed of Céleste Gangolphe, Florianne Mandin and Mathieu Mary, who chose to approach this theme with poetry, tenderness and dynamism. The mural depicts the men and women who work in front- line jobs and who, in order to cope, have adapted and sometimes reinvented themselves within their jobs. These figures, in simple paper cut-out shapes, are intertwined and thus illustrate the complementary nature of the professions and their know-how.
This summer, a first mural had already been created on the same subject to thank the staff of the Etterbeek-Ixelles hospital. It was created by graffiti artist Amandine Lesay, in collaboration with the artists’ collective Cosmotion and supported by the commune of Ixelles.
The streets have always been a stage for various forms of expression. They are accessible places where people are easily reached, regardless of their origins or concerns. In fact, it is by collaborating with or supporting street artists that various Brussels-Capital Region institutions tackle subjects that are dear to the hearts of the city’s inhabitants. These collaborations have resulted in symbolic works that reflect current events. Here is a brief overview.
2. Individual freedoms and rights
Another topical theme is that of individual freedoms and rights. Women’s rights are represented by the mural “Les Femmes” (Women) by artist Madame La Belge. Various female faces, including that of Frida Kahlo and Vandana Shiva, symbolise female solidarity. LGBTQI+ rights are also addressed in the streets of Brussels, notably through the mural created by Anthea Missy in homage to Ihsane Jarfi, the young man murdered in Liège in 2012.
It was the first time in Belgium that homophobia was recognised as an aggravating circumstance for a crime. Not forgetting “Justice et Liberté” (Justice and Freedom) by Alto on the building of the public prosecutor’s office in Brussels, which underlines the importance of justice in maintaining individual freedoms. Injustice is also highlighted by NovaDead’s mural dedicated to Georges Floyd in Laeken. It’s a tribute to all those who have been victims of discrimination and injustice because of their skin colour and ethnicity.
3. Ecology and sustainable development
The recent mural “Efecto Mariposa” (butterfly effect) by Spanish artists Olimpia Velasco and Esther Pizarro highlights the consequences that human actions can have on nature, fauna and flora. Greta Thunberg’s face is also depicted on a private house in Brussels’ cité du Sureau. This artwork was created by artist ENCQ. It shows, once again, to what extent ecology and the transition towards a sustainable society has become a priority.
Diversity has always been an important theme for Brussels. With around 183 nationalities and more than a million inhabitants living together, Brussels is one of the most cosmopolitan capitals in the world. This unique character is celebrated by the Mixity Walls trail – commissioned in 2017 by the Brussels-Capital Region – which takes in evocatively named murals dedicated to diversity in all its forms.
There are countless other symbolic murals to discover in the Brussels-Capital Region. Each is the result of a dialogue between the concerns of the inhabitants and the creativity of the artists.