The Leuven Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

We’ve joined forces with Leuven to highlight 100 local people, places and projects that contribute towards making the city what it is today. From artists and architects to producers and professors, these are the driving forces powering Leuven forward one ingenious initiative at a time.

Hans Geyens

Hans Geyens

Painter (1973)

Can you describe what you do?

I quite literally paint the town, as a letter-painter, sign-painter, artist and proud dad.

I work with all kinds of medium, like gold leaf, wood, glass… Anything I feel is required to best express an idea to its fullest – nothing is off-limits. I live in Leefdaal, just outside of Leuven. My daily routine consists of family time, household affairs, going out on a job or staying in, working in my home-studio, taking a break once in a while, choosing the right music and reading. Since I move around a lot, I get to work with lots of different people, whether they be clients, organisers or fellow artists. I like to be out in the open – that’s my scene.

How do you perceive Leuven?

3000 has been part of my address for a long time now. It’s such a familiar combination – I’d call it home, in many senses. It has always served as my base: easy to leave, and easy to return to.

I’ve always seen the city as my playground. Playing in it, playing on it, playing with it, playing around it – answering to all of its invitations. Leuven’s a very promising city: things are opening up little by little, while talented folks are increasingly choosing to stay around and build their practices here instead of moving away. And this facet is finally being noticed, which adds an interesting dynamic to the picture. It’s all about interesting people finding each other.

What would you say is Leuven’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?

Definitely its history combined with the contemporary – and everything happening in between.

How has Leuven contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

As I now consider Leuven to be my base, and had the opportunity to get to know it really well, the city has without a doubt influenced and shaped me and my ideas. There’s definitely some Leuven to be found in the mix of all the things I do – even if it is difficult to pinpoint, or put into words…

 I’ve always seen the city as my playground. Playing in it, playing on it, playing with it, playing around it – answering to all of its invitations.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?

Some cool looking flags flapping on top of the high-rises would do!

If you had to take an out-of-towner to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?

First of all, I would suggest coming by car, and finding out how far the new circulation plan will bring you. Make sure to take a good look from your car in order to get a glimpse of the city. Then seeing that this might not be the best way to really explore, look for a place and park your car. Start walking – and try to connect or rediscover all the sights you saw from the car, and then find what’s in between. Don’t forget to make a stop at every square, just to grasp their individual characters, and to watch the people passing by.

A local legend, neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth that, to you, encapsulates the spirit of the city?

Leuven is known for its sprawl of bars and party possibilities – both above and below ground. Rumour has it, there used to be a secret, well-hidden “party-corridor” between De Bierkelder and Weirdo’s, called the “Bierdoos”, where some absolutely wild partying would take place on random nights. Sadly, it’s no longer there, though – or so I’ve heard.