Abstract artist gives popular square a burst of new colour


Guillaume Bottazzi is creating a giant mural on the side of a boring apartment block on Brussels’ Jourdanplein, a popular spot for the capital’s international crowd

Appeal to the senses

Jourdanplein, in Brussels’ European quarter, is getting some new colours courtesy of French artist Guillaume Bottazzi. For the next two months he will be executing a giant abstract painting on the wall of an apartment block at one end of the square.

“Jourdanplein is a nice, popular place but we need to have more coherence between the buildings, the cafe terraces and the people,” says Jean Laurent, deputy mayor of Etterbeek responsible for the project.

The high, blank face of the building in question, where Waversesteenweg meets Graystraat, clearly clashes with the classic Brussels facades around the square. “But it is there, so we thought it was better to use it positively.”

In 2014, Etterbeek chose cartoonist Philippe Geluck and his character The Cat to brighten up a series of walls in the Jacht neighbourhood. But something abstract was seen as more appropriate for the international crowd that gathers on Jourdan. 

A challenge to violence

Bottazzi’s paintings combine rounded forms and calming pastel colours intended to make a direct appeal to the senses. According to the artist, the painting will be a direct challenge to the violence of images produced by the terrorist attacks on Brussels this year.

The idea is also for the colours in the painting to be echoed in the awnings and umbrellas of the cafe terraces around the square. “We hope each terrace will use a different colour, and it will be like another painting, but on Jourdanplein,” says Laurent, “In this way, commerce and art will have a dialogue.”

Bottazzi will work alone on the painting, which will stand 16m high and 7m wide and is expected to take about two months to complete. No unveiling will be necessary since it will develop in full sight of the public, but a formal inauguration is planned for November.

The painting is a prelude to a more general renovation next year that will pedestrianise part of the square.

Meanwhile, you can see more of Bottazzi’s work and learn about his working methods in an exhibition at Artiscope Gallery in Brussels.

3-29 October, Artiscope, 35 Sint-Michielslaan, Brussels

Photo: Guillaume Bottazzi