The olive tree, symbol of peace. The commemorative fresco recalling the suicide attack causing 16 deaths on March 22nd, 2016 at the Maelbeek subway station was inaugurated Tuesday morning by artist Benoît Van Innis before members of the Brussels government and the Director General of Stib, Brieuc de Meeûs.
The work of the portraits present at the station for 16 years represents an olive tree. “In all cultures, it symbolizes the tree of peace. It is an expression of love and hope,” explained Benoît Van Innis. This olive tree was drawn on tiles from Portugal, where the work was moulded, and then placed on the wall facing the entrance from Etterbeek Street.
This wall was completely destroyed in the bomb attack of March 22nd. A poem by Federico García Lorca translated into eight languages appears at the base of the tree. The families of victims were able to appreciate the work since Monday at a soirée held in their honour. “I did not know how they would react. And a miracle occurred. A beautiful communion took place yesterday evening. The families came to thank me,” said the delighted artist, filled with emotion.
Nineteen years ago, at the moment of the renovation of the station, this artist was sought for its decoration. At that time he had drawn the faces of anonymous travellers on the walls of the platforms. “On March 22nd, these anonymous portraits became those of innocent victims,” said Benoît Van Innis. A tear was added to one of these characters. Following the attacks, the Brussels government proposed to the artist the creation of a new fresco commemorating the tragic event.