BRUXELLES _ MUSEUM CIVA Centre International pour la Ville, l’Architecture et le Paysage "BRUXELLES.TXT"


2 December 2010> 13 February 2011
Monday> Friday | 10.30> 18.00

Center International pour la Ville, l'Architecture et le Paysage
55 Rue de L’Ermitage
1050 Brussels - Belgium

Fabrizio Musa leads us into a world where the existing and the modified, the real and the possible, the present and the virtual seem to speak and understand each other. Always passionate about digital art, he coined the term "Scanner art" to define the particular procedure with which he creates his works. Using the scanner, Musa transforms her photographs into txt files (text only), obtaining a reduction in the definition of the image, then manually accentuated through a black and white painting, with rare hints of other colors.

Born and raised in Como, he works and lives between Italy and New York. Endowed with a strong artistic personality, Musa has been the protagonist - from 1996 to today - of numerous solo exhibitions, in Europe as in the United States. His production ranges from cult scenes of cinematic masterpieces to rationalist architecture, from photos of friends and everyday situations to glimpses of the cities that made him fall in love.

"Musa studies the language of architecture by translating it autonomously on the canvas, that is, making it become a pictorial language in all respects. Architecture has always been thought of as space, as a three-dimensional structure, and seeing it "flattened" on the canvas is a reading that I had never imagined. The surprise is that this type of reading allows us to "imagine" the third dimension, which is however offered bidimensionally, like a cartography, a positive x-ray between light and shadow, with poetic results. " Arch. Mario Botta

The exhibition hosted by CIVA - Center International pour la Ville, Architecture et le Paysage - is a tribute to Brussels, a study on the architectural melange that distinguishes the city and identifies its two souls: the residential Art Nouveau and the institutional, made of the new buildings symbol of the European Community and the "towers" symbol of economic growth. Fabrizio Musa returns to Brussels after having created an exhibition on his work on architect Giuseppe Terragni in 2001 at the European Parliament. Musa has just closed the Botta.txt exhibition for the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale. For more information on Fabrizio Musa and his work:

The exhibition is organized by ArT-Za (, an events and communication agency specializing in cultural management. ArT-Za has been operating in Brussels for over three years and has become a point of reference for European institutions and private companies.



edited by Carlo Ghielmetti

We do not follow maps to buried treasure and 'X' never, ever, marks the spot
Indiana Jones

There is a gentleman who - with a cigarette in his mouth and a camera in his hand – wanders the streets of the world. Fabrizio Musa is in his own way a model for the contemporary meaning of the word flâneur. According to the definition that Baudelaire gave in the 19th century, a flâneur is one who represents the figure of an artist who submerges himself in the life of the metropolis to become a 'botanist of the sidewalk', an analytical connoisseur of the urban fabric, to understand the dynamics of life that revolves around him.
Fabrizio Musa travels a lot. And, likean artist of the past, his travels are training, from which he returns with suggestions, ideas, impressions that he translates into paintings. In his 'big tour' around the world, Musa manages to give the trip a particular aesthetic dimension that leads him to examine with care and attention the architectural aspect of the places visited, whether in New York, China, Milan or in the cities of his own land, Lombardy. Musa has an eye that had been trained by looking at the buildings of his illustrious countryman - Giuseppe Terragni - and that has been refined over time by the study of the great exponents of contemporary architecture, such as Mario Botta, whose work was featured in a memorable series.
It was oddly the same Giuseppe Terragni who created the bond between the artist and Brussels. In fact, a series of paintings dedicated to Terragni was the theme of an exhibition held in 2004 at the prestigious European Parliament. It was then that the liaison, never dormant, between the artist and the Belgian capital was established; and this exhibition is its necessary consequence. Since their first meeting, Musa has been deeply seduced by the charm of this city, struck by the set of ancient roots that go well with the dreams of modernity. Marked by a process that he defines by the term 'Bruxellisation', Musa took the best of this city: from the Atomium to the Royal Palace, from the Cathedral to the building of the European Parliament, from the Arc de Triomphe to the Generali Tower. And he did it with the technique that makes him an easily recognizable icon of young Italian figurative art. This technique has roots in the American pop culture on which Musa has fed since his first steps on the boards of the stage of art. His creations, in fact, play with the idea of the reproducibility of the work of art, an idea that is secured by scanning the images first collected by his camera. However, this process - which is a necessary technical phase of its work - is used to implement a method that from now on we call 'Musalizzazione', through which the artist draws the anatomy of the architecture that captures it without losing the context of the urban fabric in which they live.
The next step on the support - canvas or paper - is an expression of newfound manual skill, of an artistic method, with which Musa feels very close. This series of paintings inspired by Brussels marks decisively a key passage in his artistic growth, represented by the entrance of colour. Until recently his artistic style has revolved around the fulcrum of the two-tone colours 'black and white' – of which, on this occasion, he presents just a couple of works, perhaps the last - Fabrizio Musa has traveled a road of maturation and colouristic growth that has led him to carefully manage his palette. Now, his works play and have fun revealing and covering the colours on his canvases, sometimes very cunning, without hesitation or shyness, sometimes in a more measured way, but with an intensity that seems to erode the layer of dark black and tries to move towards a new dimension.


by Emma Gravagnuolo

Bruxelles.txt is a very specific project. The selection of the paintings on display at CIVA (Centre International pour la Ville, l'Architecture et le Paysage) creates a coherent body of work and a particular atmosphere. Can you tell me something about the process behind this choice?
From the beginning, the trip was conceivedt as a study not only of this city, but also as an examination of the contrasts between the different architectures.. I wanted to compare architectures such as the imposing Royal Palace, built in Louis XVI style, with Art Deco buildings, with those of early twentieth century and with those futuristic and modern.

You have chosen many landscapes - architecture, empty spaces, almost abstract external spaces - and only two works that incluce man. But in both cases, these works call into question the sense of absence and the idea of painting as a specific practice.
As I said, the architecture was the focus of my research, while the human figure remained in the background. Although in some canvases, like the one representing the Arc de Triomphe in the Parc du Cinquantenaire or in that with the European Parliament, the presence of man was necessary in order to give a reference for comparison, to highlight the grandeur of those buildings.

The prospects of some buildings are extreme, the facades are taken from oblique views, other details from below.
I always try to capture details and shots that are not "simple" ... Usually I rely just on my instinct, when I report on a specific architecture; I just let myself be guided by the shots that hit my imagination. I try to see already that image, those views as they would be represented on the canvas. I take the photo to memorize it, to work on once I get back in my studio in Como.

Your works are born from a photograph or from a video frame. What relationship has your work to the image as iconography? I ask because in postmodernism, painting has had to deal with the versatility, the style, the surface while in your work there is a substantial attention to the images as specific shapes.
Photography is a crucial step in my research I always travel with my camera and I consider every photo in terms of the work that could possibly arise. Choosing the right image means already being in a great place to develop the work of art. Year after year, the experience grows and the photos are absolutely focused on their ultimate goal. Studying architecture, I discovered that lines, spaces, but above all the lights and shadows are essential for the realization of the work painted on canvas. For this reason I try to choose moments of the day when the shadows are more prominent and the forms of the building are redesigned by the sun and light.

Each cycle of works dedicated to places is always preceded by a “preparatory trip" that allows you to have the material to make the canvases. What is your relationship with photography? Must everything have a building, a landscape, like a church?
What must a building, a landscape, a church have to interest you?

It has to catch my attention. There isn’t a special standard that recurs all the time. It may be ancient or modern architecture, made of metal or stone ... My eye and my camera needs to see the picture that will be born. At that moment, I click and begin to study the painting projects that arise from the images formed.

And for Bruxelles.TXT which places did you choose?
I was interested in the more common ones such as the Atomium – the steel monument in the Park Heysel - but also in revealing glimpses of unexpected juxtapositions of styles, simple shots of special but unknown buildings.

How many pictures do you take for a single subject? How do you feel that the image is the "right" one?
I am always taking fewer and more targeted pictures, although I need a dozen photos of each building, perhaps taken at different times of the day to study the impact of light on different forms.

What are the steps in your research?
The first step is to identify the channel that the study will focus on. Then I go to take pictures trying to make as much as possible the idea of what I represent. Afterwards there is the part of studying and choosing the right path [or image?] through the computer: I reduce the black and white photos highlighting the contrasts and trying to get to the essence of white and black pixels. Now begins the work of painting, first with a drawing on the canvas - taking as reference the original image- then drafting a set of colours and then interweaving again the black and white, thus reducing all the parts that I consider necessary for the representation of the subject. Let's say that is a work of image synthesis... but it is a synthesis that gives, not takes away. It accentuates, in this case, the effect of light and shadow on the structure of buildings, often revealing details that the naked eye can not grasp.

Which is your relationship with colour?
Colour is important in my paintings, it gives depth and substance to the canvas, differentiates architecture from the background from the heavens ... although most of the time, after laying the paint lying to cover it, I tend to bring everything back to an image that is a bit more detached from reality. In practice, colour is always perceived, even in a canvas entirely in black and white

You have chosen very large sizes. It is a brave choice: of course the large canvases are more expensive and harder to find them a place ...
Sure, I know that, but I think that it makes the idea clearer and represents better the subject. I can work in more detail with larger sizes. Also the impact in an exhibition or in a home is greater.

A few words on the canvas "Bruxelles.txt V" with the view of the city ...
It is one of the images that struck me most and I spent a lot of time looking at different times of day. This is where you can see the all the different styles in Brussels, great palaces of glass and steel as opposed to small Art Deco houses of three or four floors up to skyscrapers on the horizon or the Atomium, which puts its signature skyline and make it unique among other cities.

When you decide that a painting is finished?
Sometimes never. Maybe I keep these pictures for me so that when I see what can be tweaked I have the opportunity to do that, maybe after a year or more.

Have you ever destroyed panels that do not convince you?
This has never happened, but I think that is because an image from which I create the paintings is studied in detail before the completion of the work of art. It had happened that I have coloured skies that did not convince me, or have had to redo parts of the canvas several times until they gave me the confidence that they represented 100% of what it was in my mind even before I started.

What teachers have influenced you the most?
No doubt Andy Warhol. Pop art is still my reference point. I think it is captured even in my most recent works.