Bozar — Brussel is een Plaizier / Bruxelles est un Plaizier

Forty years ago, in 1977, Mieke and Wijnand Plaizier opened a small gallery on rue des Chapeliers, in downtown Brussels. The young couple organized exhibitions there, which included publishing posters and postcards to accompany them. That was the start of a stock of images that has grown to over 5,000 titles.

After a few years, the gallery moved to a shop space on rue des Éperonniers and started exhibiting primarily its own published editions. The publishing house and accompanying shop quietly grew into one of the most unique spots in the centre of Brussels, becoming a landmark in Brussels and beyond thanks, in part, to the sweet contrariness of Wijnand and Mieke and their sharp eye, dedicated craftsmanship and sense of humour. 

Brussels itself was also a favourite subject in the postcards and other publications that Plaizier has issued over the past forty years, producing an intriguing collection of images of the Belgian capital. Shots by top photographers alongside discoveries from archives or flea markets, each depicting a past or present perception of the city in a distinctive manner: the profound changes it underwent and how these were visualized. The merit of these depictions might be artistic or aesthetic one time and documentary or sociological the next, with architectural and urban transformations on prominent display.

This exhibition presented two parallel stories. Along the left-hand walls of the galleries, a gigantic mosaic of postcards leads us through the urban agglomeration that is Brussels – a long tour from the green southern end of the city to the Brussels Airport, past all the places Plaizier has highlighted these past forty years. On the right, in the larger printed items (posters, calendars, special editions), the exhibition zooms in on some of the recurrent themes that emerge in the publishing house’s visual survey of Brussels – from Art Nouveau and the Grand-Place to Expo 58 and a fascination for modernity. Brussels is a Plaizier.