You probably heard so much about the new “shocking” murals that are appearing in Brussels. A dead body hanging upside down, struggling child with a knife to his neck, male & female genitalia high up on the walls of residential buildings. Some residents were shocked and many media outlets reported about complaints by some of the locals. The Bulletin magazine wrote that Brussels-City mayor Yvan Mayeur had said the painting could be seen as a call to violence, while Ans Persoons, Councillor in charge of culture and city planning said “I find it much too violent, and want to see it disappear as soon as possible.” The others, like the Flemish Minister for Culture and Brussels Sven Gatz expressed another view. He thinks that “art is free. Forbidden to forbid. Or are we going to ban Caravaggio as well?”
The painting is located on a building by the Porte de Flandre. It is a reproduction of detail from a work by 16th-century Italian painter Caravaggio. It depicts the patriarch Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac on God’s orders, only to be restrained by an angel.
Now can this kind of street-art contribute to the attractiveness of the city? We agree that some of these works could be called ‘controversial’ but there are a lot of ‘side-effects,’ which can be beneficial for the city and are not so visible at this stage. Brussels is already has the reputation as the city of murals and comic strips. On top of it, it is also recognized as the capital of surrealist Belgium. Logically, one could believe that the new murals will strengthen the image of the city as the hub of street art, open spirit and liberty. Some of these works could become symbols, so-called ‘landmarks,’ of their neighborhoods. We can also assume that many tourists would want to visit them.
The world is already talking about the ‘new controversial murals in Brussels’. Many international media shared the story about these ‘schocking’ artworks that appeared on buildings in our city. The word is out – something creative is happening in Brussels. People are intrigued by the anonymous artist who painted these murals. Brussels is slowly becoming creative, artistic and urban hub that people want to discover and visit.
It should be noted that the two controversial murals are inspired by 17th century paintings. First one (portrayed above) depicts Caravaggio’s artwork. The original version hangs in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. The second painting shows a naked, blood-covered figure hanging with his head down. It resembles Jan de Baen’s The Bodies of the Brothers de Witt from the 17th century. The original is on display to the general public in the Hague.
This mural is on a building in the Rue des Brigittines / Brigittinenstraat (Marolles district)
An anonymous street artist is the talk of the town. National and international press talks about the controversial street-art in Brussels. And yes, some people continue to ask that eternal question about art: how far can it go before it crosses the imagined line of allowed and acceptable?
More related articles:
Brussels Express had an article about the mural in Saint Gilles – ‘Street art or shumbles’.
De Redactie – New gory mural on Brussels block of flats