Romantic street art replaces love locks on Paris bridge

Wed Jun 10, 2015 6:12pm EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - 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."

eL Seed, born in the suburbs of Paris to Tunisian parents, is known for his decoration of the 47-metre high minaret on the Jara mosque in Gabes in southern Tunisia.

Alongside his 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.

(Reporting By Reuters Television in Paris; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian in London; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

A woman takes pictures of a remaining iron grill panel covered with "love locks" on the Pont des Arts which crosses over the River Seine in Paris, France, June 1, 2015. The bridge is closed from June 1 to June 8 and the iron grills covered with padlocks which hang on the 19th century pedestrian bridge will be removed by city municipal employees. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer