Beneath the cobblestones of the Place des Martyrs lie the bodies of some 500 heroes, who died in the fight for Belgian independence during the revolution in September 1830. A commemorative monument stands to their memory in the centre of the square where, as in all royal squares, the statue of a sovereign enthroned or on a horse should instead soar into the sky. Its effrontery is not displeasing to the owners of this apartment which looks out onto the quadrangle. Inspired by the royal squares of France, according to whose codified programme dating from the 17th century it is considered to be the most perfect expression of classical urban planning, the Place des Martyrs is a jewel of Belgian neo-classical architecture. Created in 1774 by Claude Fisco, it signals a radical aesthetic and urbanistic break with traditional practices.
Such audacity could also only further appeal to the modern art collectors who live in this apartment, which is designed around the very works that are housed there. From Calder via Bacon to Magritte, they are particularly fond of these artists who invented an avant-garde art during the first half of the 20th century, turning their backs on academism to allow deeper, more essential emotions to be expressed.
Belgian surrealism takes pride of place in the series of works that determines the arrangement of the apartment. Fortified by his intimate knowledge of this collection, Olivier Dwek was able to configure the various functions, openings and articulations of the spaces by creating a dialogue between the works themselves and the square, a remarkable fragment of Belgian history.
© Serge Anton