ANTON VAN WILDERODE (WILFRIED PAS)
On the corner of the Collegestraat we see the porch of the church and the convent of the Recolletten friars, who had to flee Hulst in 1646. The Recolletten church is built in a Baroque style and was completed in 1696. Later, and until today, the convent buildings house the institute Sint-Jozef-Klein-Seminarie and are better known as “College” and “Collegekerk”.
It is no coincidence that the bronze sculpture depicting the famous priest-poet and writer Anton van Wilderode (pseudonym of Cyriel Coupé, 1918-1998) has its place on this spot. He was not only a teacher in the school, but also a prominent personality in the Flemish cultural scene. He translated Vergil, was a poet as well as a writer, orator, contributor to the Yzer Pilgrimages and school radio. His influence on generations of intellectuals of our region and far beyond can’t be underestimated.
The sculpture shows the poet, sitting at a writing desk. He looks somewhat dreamy, yet with sharp eye in the direction of the Market Square. In his left hand, he holds his perpetual cigar.
Anton van Wilderode is recognisably portraited, not as a heroic figure of Flemish literature but as an intelligent and sensitive character. Anton Van Wilderode died during the creation of this statue. The sculptor met the writer once during the last year of his life. For the further execution of the statue he had to rely on photographic material.
The sculptor Wilfried Pas used a new technique to realise his work. By using silicones, the mould becomes far more flexible. The result has the aspect of a drawing in clay, one almost forgets that this lifelike portrait is cast in bronze. The figure rests on a sort of rough rock formation and melts into it. Thus the rather classic depiction obtains a surprisingly modern allure. The contrast between rough and finished bronze surfaces results in a very expressive and specifically recognisable work of art.
Wilfried Pas studied at Sint-Lucas in Brussel, at the Royal Academy of fine Arts of Antwerpen and at the National Higher Institute of fine Arts, where he became professor of sculptural Arts. In 1966 he won the Prize ‘Berthe Art’ and in 1984 the ‘Eugène Baieprijs’. He collaborated with Fred Bervoets, Walter Goossens and Jan Cox, together they were the heart of the gallery ‘De Zwarte Panter’ in Antwerpen. Wilfried Pas was first active as a sketcher, etcher and screen printer. In his 1972 exhibition of bronze statues he surprized art lovers with a bizarre series of strange creatures. Since 1992 he made statues of Flemish authors, amongst whom Willem Elsschot, Paul van Ostaijen, Herman Teirlinck, Karel Van de Woestijne and Gerard Walschap, and sculpted the Belgian kings Boudewijn and Albert II and queen Paola.
Kunst in de Stad - December 12th 1998