In 2014 architect Dirk Bigaré invited George De Decker to take part in a special project: the integration of art into the new prison complex in Leuze-en-Hainaut (BE).
De Decker designed a series of 4 sculptures (in bronze, walnut, aluminium and leather/lead), as well as a large stained glass window and 2 paintings.
The bronze sculpture at the entrance is a metaphor for the irrepressible power of thought, the imagination: Why is that human figure there standing on his head? And why isn’t he placed centrally on that tall beam?
Etymologically the word ‘man’ has the same roots as the Latin mens – spirit or mind. Inmates aren’t just physically but also mentally isolated. But the mind can’t be confined, and so it is the inmates who hold the ultimate key to this prison. Their thoughts are free.
With this image, De Decker gives physical form to the sound of this ultimate sanctuary, the inner voice – le bruit de la pensée.
The large stained glass window (260/472 cm) that De Decker designed for this commission complements the four sculptures. It isn’t man who is central here, it’s the landscape into which man has been introduced. It is not the vertical, but the horizontal.
Nor is there any facile, noncommittal realism here. Instead, De Decker brings in the outside world by employing a subdued colour palette and the graphic grid pattern of the bars.
© Guido De Bruyn, translation;:Stephen Smith