RemarksJean Brusselmans represented the theme with the footbridge on the canal in Anderlecht several times between 1929 and 1949. Each time with variations in figures and buildings and in different techniques: oil painting, watercolor, drawing, graphics. This 1933 work is closely related to the more sketchy 1930s canvas (OC no. 279) and both etchings and the 1935 canvas (OC Nos. 381C-381D-381).
Exhibition"Hoe? Boer! Dada for NOW and for later, Dada for ever" MuZee, Ostend 2018, p. 118 reprod.
Literature"Jean Brusselmans" Robert-L. Delevoy, Catalogue Raisonné established by G. Brys-Schatan, Ed. Laconti Brussels 1972, cf. nrs. 279-381C-381D-381 (reprod. of similar compositions)
"Retrospectieve Jean Brusselmans" Groeningemuseum, Bruges 1980, cf. nr. 132 (reprod. of a similar composition)
"Jean Brusselmans" Kunstmuseum aan Zee, Ostend 2011-2012, cf. nr. 17 (reprod. of a similar composition)
JEAN BRUSSELMANS - THE FOOTBRIDGE (1933)
It's a dull day in Brussels. Passengers brave the gray weather, a horse and carriage is on its way, a small boat sails by. The gracefully arched footbridge crosses a now filled branch of the Brussels-Charleroi canal, on the border between Anderlecht and Molenbeek-Saint-Jean. The young Brusselmans and his parents lived near this bustling working-class district, and the memory of childhood swims in the canal will become a motif throughout his oeuvre.
Being the protagonist of the composition, the footbridge unfolds over the canvas like a puppet theater. While delicate lines compose the bridge, the decor is a patchwork of defined flat shapes in even colors. Warm earth tones accompany the cool blues and grays. Frisky waves on the water alternate the static scenery. Compact clouds dominate the city. The interplay of various technical elements creates a melodic harmony. The artist highlights uniform color fields with expressive brushstrokes, straight and curved lines, movement and stillness.
Brusselmans has tackled this topic several times since 1929, the canal and the footbridge being his favorite subject. The systematic repetition of familiar motifs marks his oeuvre. He quotes himself, repeats themes or compositions and links them to current events. In this 1933 composition, something seems to be brewing underneath the silence of everyday worries.