Belgian-Congolese street artist NovaDead, whose real name is Julien Crevaels, poses next to a giant mural paying tribute to George Floyd, in the aftermath his death in Minneapolis police custody, in Brussels, Belgium June 18, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Brussels added to its large collection of murals on Thursday with a newly commissioned work in memory of African-American George Floyd, whose killing by police has sparked global protests against racism and police violence.
Belgian-Congolese street artist NovaDead, whose real name is Julien Crevaels, completed the work in just over a week in a suburb near the canal that crosses the Belgian capital.
The mural on a street corner, stretching across two buildings, features the face of Floyd, some scenes of nature and two hands clasping a rose.
“For me this picture could be a reminder of the absurdity, as I see it, of racism and the absurdity of such violence over the difference of colour,” Crevaels told Reuters TV.
The Black Lives Matter protests have extended to Belgium and sparked calls for statues of King Leopold II to be removed. The king is known for his brutal colonial rule in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1885-1908.
There are flecks of vivid pink, purple and orange on the face of Floyd but generally grey, a colour city resident Crevaels says he uses in all his depictions of people, whatever their race.
“I always use the same range of grey and it functions very well. It’s really to create this unity of human beings,” said the artist, whose work also features on walls in France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Miami in the United States.
The wall itself is the property of the Brussels district of the Belgian capital, which wanted a mural to honour all victims of racism. The district, which includes the city centre, has some 150 murals, including other NovaDead works.
Reporting by Bart Biesemans and Christian Levaux; writing by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Gareth Jones