Celebrating 125 Years of René Magritte at Hotel Amigo

Rocco Forte Hotels

Recent visitors to Hotel Amigo may be surprised to discover a strange figure adorning its brick façade. The huge silhouetted hulking figure covering the hotel’s front wall is part of the city-wide celebration to mark the 125th anniversary of René Magritte.

Renowned as one of the most famous artists from Brussels, visit the city before the 7th of January 2024 and you’ll see eight monumental collages, prominently displayed across the capital’s façades, including our own. A fitting tribute to one of Brussels’ most famous sons.

In the Tracks of Magritte

Best described as “more than just an open air tour”, the ambitious public art project is an invitation to all who visit Belgium’s capital to see Magritte’s work anew. Street artist Julien de Casabianca’s modus operandi aims to reframe the everyday, surprise the viewer, and interrupt the established order.

His approach makes him a natural choice for the Magritte Foundation, the Magritte Museum and the City of Brussels who tasked him with exploring the work of René Magritte. The result is thought-provoking, asking us to consider how Magritte treated Brussels as a laboratory for his thoughts and creations.

Commenting on the exhibition, Alderman Delphine Houba remarked: “With “In the footsteps of Magritte”, I'm looking forward to seeing bowler hats and XXL doves flooding the capital, to the delight of tourists and locals, young and old alike!”

Fantômas featured on Hotel Amigo

Looking up at the façade of Hotel Amigo, you’ll see it has been transformed by de Casabianca and his team. Their collage was inspired by Magritte’s artwork “The Man of the Sea” (1927). A fan of surrealist filmmaker Louis Feuillade, Magritte painted fictional master criminal Fantômas, star of pulp noir films and cartoons from the early to mid 20th century. 

Restyled by de Casabianca, Magritte’s Fantômas becomes a body rising from ground level all the way up to the third floor of our hotel, with an old wooden door for a head, holding what could be a guitar, or an iron, or a bag, or the handle of a window.

The enduring influence of René Magritte

One of the most influential surrealist painters of the 20th century, Magritte’s works have confirmed his status as a titan of the subconscious. His man with the bowler hat and “The Treachery of Images” (“ceci n’est pas une pipe”) are playful yet subtly intellectual.

He is also a figure inextricably linked with Brussels. Though he produced around a quarter of his work in Paris – Surrealism’s spiritual centre – it was Brussels where he grew up, was trained, spent the major part of his life, and produced most of his significant works. 

Belgian Surrealism, a distinct movement from the Paris branch, owes everything to Magritte, and he founded a lineage which included in its ranks Paul Nougé, Camille Goemans, Marcel Lecomte, and E.L.T. Mesens. 

To continue on your Magritte journey, make your way to the Magritte Museum which holds many of his paintings including the Treachery of Images. At Magritte’s House Museum you’ll find where he lived and worked for 24 years, and produced many of his most famous works. For an insight into Magritte’s social life, the Greenwich Modern cafe and Le Fleur en Papier Dore were two of his favourite watering holes that still exist today. 

There’s no better starting point for your Magritte journey than inside the walls of Hotel Amigo, enveloped by the super-sized surreal image of Fantômas.

Photo Credit: Eric Danhier

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