ANTON VAN WILDERODE (WILFRIED PAS)
On the corner of the Collegestraat we can see the porch of theRecollects church, adjacent to the Recollects friars’ convent, who had to flee Hulst in 1646. The church was built in a Baroque style and was completed in 1696. Later, and up to this day, the convent buildings accommodate the Sint-Jozef-Klein-Seminarie school and are better known as “College” and “Collegekerk”.
On this spot stands the bronze sculpture depicting the famous priest-poet and writer Anton van Wilderode (pseudonym of Cyriel Coupé, 1918-1998). He was not only a teacher at the school, but also a prominent personality of the Flemish cultural scene. He translated Virgil, 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. While his statue was designed, Anton Van Wilderode died.
The sculptor depicts the poet, sitting at his writing desk. He looks somewhat dreamy, yet casting a sharp eye towards the Market Square. In his left hand, he holds his perpetual cigar. Anton van Wilderode is recognisably shaped, as an intelligent and sensitive character. The sculptor met the writer just 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 novel technique to realise this 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 kind of rough rock formation and melts into it. Thus the rather classic rendering 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 first was active as a draughtsman, etcher and screen printer. In his 1972 exhibition of bronze statues he surprized art lovers with a bizarre series of strange creatures. From 1992 onwards he created statues of Flemish authors, amongst whom Willem Elsschot, Paul van Ostaijen, Herman Teirlinck, Karel Van de Woestijne, Gerard Walschap and the actor Julien Schoenaerts; his sculpture of the Belgian king Boudewijn (1999) is situated on Antwerpen Linkeroever, and in 2013 he sculpted king Albert II and queen Paola.
Kunst in de Stad - December 12th 1998