Bonom: Belgium’s Banksy
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because there is talking and there is doing, and sometimes those who do both are refreshing reminders that creating chaos can be an art form in itself.
The best part of the stories of Banksy, Basquiat, Christo and Bonom is the big middle finger shot at an art establishment whose galleries, processes and coterie of art arbiters let the rest of us know who is and who is not significant.
While there’s something orderly and clean about waiting your turn, there’s something much more exciting about not waiting your turn and shoving to the front of the line. In the case of 27-year-old Vincent Glowinski, aka Bonom, he pushed his way up front when he scrambled up the sides of very, very tall buildings in Brussels and slathered them with paintings of giant spiders, elephants, minotaurs and wonderfully more.
Taking it to the streets, indeed.
Leaving Paris in 2005 for Brussels, Bonom found a delightful smorgasbord of empty buildings. He gathered his abseiling ropes and poles, and used them in the dead of the night to spread his calling card to the art world all over the city.
”Mystery in art is good,” says Muzah Van Tricht, artist and owner of Brussel’s renowned tattoo shop called, appropriately enough, the Tattoo Shop. ”Much better for art than religion. So we all wondered,” he winds up with a knowing grin.
And so it went for a good five years, very much à la “Who was that masked man?” The city wondered who it was who had the stones to paint a dinosaur skeleton on the famous Shell building. Or the elephant on the National Library. Until one day, hobbling down the street on crutches courtesy of a leg he injured while painting (the ropes had too much give and he was bouncing around like he was bungee jumping), he was spotted by a cop who recognized and arrested him.
Which, in a very Belgian way, resulted in his neither doing jail time nor paying a fine. But there was a price in the form of community service. Yes: designing a new logo for the city’s cleaning services. And now, post-discovery, there is notoriety, a loss of anonymity and a return to his given name (Vincent Glowinski), a book on his work with photographer Ian Dykmans published early this year, and an upcoming collaboration with Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus.
Want to see it for yourself? If you’re going to be in Brussels before March 10, you can see his work at the Iselp contemporary art center.
Or you could just hit the streets. With your eyes open and peeled and looking for…? Giant animals, natch.