PARIS – Panels of street art have been installed on Paris’s Pont des Arts to replace the hundreds of thousands of “love locks” that weighed down the bridge’s balustrade until the city began removing them last week.
The temporary exhibition on the theme of love, assembled by Paris gallerist Mehdi Ben Cheikh, is intended to cover the railing with an alternative attraction for romantics no longer able to immortalize their love by attaching a padlock and throwing the key into the River Seine.
Among the works is one by the Franco-Tunisian street artist eL Seed, known for mixing Arabic calligraphy and graffiti in “calligraffiti.”
His work, spelled out in pink Arabic letters, is a quote from “Le Pere Goriot” by the 19th-century novelist Honore de Balzac: “Paris is in truth an ocean: you can plumb it but you’ll never know its depths.”
“I thought it was brave … to put up an Arabic sentence in Paris,” Cheikh said. “It’s not only a language of terrorists, it’s the language of a whole people across the world … who are very open, with an extremely spiritual dimension in their religion too.”
The street artist was born in the suburbs of Paris to Tunisian parents, and is known for his decoration of the 47-meter-high minaret on the Jara mosque in Gabes in southern Tunisia.
Alongside eL Seed’s panel are other love-themed works by the street artists Brusk, Pantonio and Jace.
Workmen began taking off the padlocks last week after a section of railing collapsed under their weight.
The graffiti panels will be replaced by plexiglass later this year.