While he was working on this series of paintings in his atelier, De Decker constantly listened to a work by Pierre Boulez (1925-2016): Pli selon pli (Fold by fold), one of the absolute highlights of 20th century music.
Boulez named his composition after a poem by Mallarmé, Remémoration d'amis belges, in which the poet describes how a mist that shrouds the city of Bruges gradually lifts:
‘Comme furtive d’elle et visible je sens
Que se dévêt pli selon pli la pierre veuve’
(As if by stealth and visible I sense
That fold by fold the widowed stone unrobes itself)
The subtitle of the composition is Portrait de Mallarmé, because – as its five movements develop – Boulez wanted to reveal a portrait of the poet, fold by fold.
In the past, the surface of a used parchment would often be scraped clean so that it could be reused for another document. Such a page is called a palimpsest. In this series, De Decker uses a similar technique: placing layer after layer on top of each other, in this case of Japanese tissue paper, glued onto canvases that were previously painted with oil paint. The advantage of this is that the bottom layer can still play a part and be concealed or revealed, whether or not covered by Chinese porcelain powder.
A pictorial ‘pli selon pli’.