Brussels Airlines reveals Bruegel, a 6th Belgian Icon in honour of the famous Renaissance painter

Brussels Airlines 00-SNE – Bruegel © Bram Botterman

After honouring Tintin, followed by the Red Devils, Magritte, Tomorrowland and the Smurfs, Brussels Airlines presents its 6th Belgian Icon, a unique aircraft inspired by Flemish painter Bruegel the Elder. The result is a grand piece of art and the most complex plane livery in the world due to the enormous level of detail.

2019 being the year of Bruegel (450th anniversary of his death), Brussels Airlines has chosen to pay tribute to the Flemish Master with a new Belgian Icon. For the occasion, the airline joins forces with VISITFLANDERS and BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts, who acted as curatorial advisor and suggested two contemporary Belgian artists, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys. The artist duo was commissioned to imagine a design for the aircraft that looks at the work of the old master from the perspective of their own artistic practice.

Although 450 years separate them, these artists and Bruegel share similarities in the way they observe the real world, its places, people, landscapes and habits. Moreover, they have in common to inhabit a same terrain: Belgium, which, beyond being the place where they live and work also serves as a great inspiration for their artistic productions.

For the aircraft, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys have sourced a selection of elements from emblematic Pieter Bruegel the Elder paintings to create a new composition and reality. The newly formed universe incorporates details and sceneries from works like Netherlandisch Proverbs (1559), The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559), Children’s Games (1560), Two Chained Monkeys (1562), Landscape with the Flight into Egypt (1563), Tower of Babel (1563), The Hunters in the Snow (1565), The Harvesters (1565) or Peasant Dance (1569).

The result is a 37m long Airbus A320 (OO-SNE) baptised Bruegel. The two sides of the fuselage feature an entirely different design, which took 19 days to paint by hand, as it is the most complex aircraft livery ever made, due to the very high level of detail. The aircraft was unveiled today in the presence of Christina Foerster, CEO of Brussels Airlines, Ben Weyts, Flemish Minister of Tourism, Peter De Wilde, CEO of VISITFLANDERS, Paul Dujardin, CEO of BOZAR and the artists.

Brussels Airlines continues to be an ambassador for Belgium. This 6th iconic aircraft showcases the rich art history of Belgium and we are extremely proud of the beautiful flying piece of art we were able to create together with the support of VISITFLANDERS and with the artistic expertise of BOZAR. The Hi Belgium Pass, which is a big success since we launched it in 2017, builds further on this ambassadorship and continues to attract many tourists to our beautiful country, now also with a Flemish Masters experience.”

Christina Foerster, CEO of Brussels Airlines

The artist duo Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys has been selected to represent Belgium at the 58th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, taking place from 10 May until 24 November. That’s why Bruegel’s first flight will set sail for Venice tomorrow, to accompany the artists to the inauguration of the Belgian Pavilion of the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, opening to the public on May 11th. The aircraft will then continue to fly across Brussels Airlines’ European and Middle-Eastern network for the next 5 years.

The Bruegel plane is only a part of the entire project to promote the Flemish Masters in 2019 and 2020. Brussels Airlines and VISITFLANDERS also join forces to attract tourists to Belgium with the Hi Belgium Pass: The Flemish Masters Experience. With the pass, tourists can fly from 48 European cities to Brussels, take unlimited train rides to Belgian cities and visit a wealth of cultural attractions for free, including Flemish Masters exhibitions and collections across Flanders and Brussels. Upon arrival in Brussels Airport, travellers will immediately be immersed in the Bruegel universe, thanks to the brand new skullmapping art installation at gate A40 by VISITFLANDERS.
“Flemish Masters like Pieter Bruegel still have a great international appeal. They are cultural attractions that can seduce a wide audience to travel to the cradle of so much fantastic art. Those who really want to immerse themselves in the world of Bruegel, Rubens or Van Eyck should pay a visit to Flanders.”
Ben Weyts, Flemish Minister of Tourism

“The new state-of-the-art animation brings the iconic figures from Bruegel’s paintings to life in a unique way and is part of a long-term experience project at the airport. In 3 years’ time, 75 million travelers will be captivated by our Flemish Masters and by our other tourist assets such as our gastronomy and cycling. In addition, one million passengers will travel from or to Brussels Airport in the next 5 years on board of a flying Flemish Master. That is another million people who become ambassadors of our Flemish Masters and, by extension, of our tourist destination. Add to that the millions of people who will see or share images of this beautiful plane via social media.”


Many know BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts as the cultural hotspot located in the heart of Brussels in the historic building by Victor Horta. Today, BOZAR has evolved into a true ‘House of Creation’, by stimulating contemporary creation not only in our own spaces, but also in unexpected places. As well as supporting the participation of Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys to the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, we are delighted to extend our journey with the artist duo right into the sky with the launch of this extraordinary aircraft.

Paul Dujardin, CEO BOZAR

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