One of the forces behind Brussels street art is gender equality, urban arts, and hip hop collective, La Belle Hip Hop. They regularly collaborate with PARCOURS Street Art, who have developed and funded the creation of street art routes around the city. I pass one of the pieces by La Belle Hip Hop on the regular route to my local supermarket, created by New York-based Japanese artist Shoko Mikami, it reflects the diversity of the city.
On the wall of a nearby Dutch language school, it cheers me every time I pass by. There’s another piece by them in the Saint-Géry neighbourhood, a row of diverse female faces along an alleyway. It’s refreshing, street art tends to have a male bias and La Belle Hip Hop give female artists some city canvas. No surprise that they were both created on International Women’s Day. It’s very much in the spirit of Brussels.
It illustrates an interesting point, sometimes lost in rush for cities to commission famous street artists to add a touch of chic to the urban landscape: street art works best when it be reflects the people and culture of a city. Some might say that street art can only be truly authentic if it’s grass roots and doesn’t come from on high, in collaboration with city authorities or business. But the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Street art in Brussels has been a slow burn. More subtle than the blockbuster street art and less intrusive than the mass of smaller pieces found in Berlin. Scratch the surface though and this city’s street art credentials are soon revealed, even before you consider the comic book strip art that is also hugely popular here. I could be accused of being a bit dismissive of Brussels street art when we first arrived. No more.
Like so much else about Brussels, the street art is underappreciated, and not unlike the Brussels’ architecture that plays host to it, the street art is an eclectic mix of styles. Buildings here are notable for being completely inconsistent. It’s rare to walk down a street and find two that are architecturally the same. It’s only when you’re here that you realise how unusual that is. It’s the same with street art.
While there are definitely some districts that have more pieces than others, it’s an equal opportunity city for spotting street art: you can find it pretty much everywhere. I’ve never really set out to look for walls specifically, but it’s rare to take a stroll through the city without ending up taking a few photos of the art as well. This is a lot easier in a city the size of Brussels, where walking from one side of the city to the other is not unrealistic.
It helps that I live near the ‘Allée du Kaai’, a strip of dilapidated buildings along the canal that have become an ever changing gallery. The last few months living here have been an exercise in slowly beginning to appreciate the underrated charms of both Brussels and Belgium. Street art is just one of those – and even the weather has taken a turn for the better.
11 thoughts on “Pas ce soir, mon chou … Brussels Street Art”
I wish we could have seen more of this art on our recent trip to Brussels. But it’s difficult when you’re on foot and don’t know your way around. Thankfully, you’ve shared some fantastic street art in this post — each is to be admired in its own way.
Wonderful. You clearly deserve the title of my Master in Street Art.
(I do need to go back to Brussels soon)
A major street artist just died: Miss Tic. Look her up if you haven’t seen her art.
Tot ziens Paul.
Thanks Brian. WHat a shame about Miss Tic, she produced some provocative pieces of work. I don’t believe I have seen her work before – it’s pretty memorable – I’ll have to go back to Paris to see if I can find anything by her.
She only produced in Paris I believe. Who knows how long her art will stay on the walls now. I have several shots of her work. I will try to make a post.
And you shall have to go to Paris…
I look forward to both those things, Brian!
I hope the dumbest mayor we ever had in the history of Paris will take steps to protect the walls where her work is… I will let you know after the summer. We are all set and ready to go to Paris.
I’m glad you’re discovering the charms of Belgium in the same way that Germany seemed to charm you also. Just don’t tell everybody, OK? We wouldn’t want it to be overrun with tourists!
Hi Gigi. fancy meeting you here… 😉