NAJADE (ALPHONSE DARVILLE)
The main pedestrian shopping street in the centre of Sint-Niklaas is the Stationsstraat. When the street was renovated in November 2013, seven statues, by three artists, were given a new, prominent place. They make the Stationsstraat more than a mere shopping street. People who are not fond of shopping are pampered in a totally different way. While some will prefer looking at shop windows and won’t pay much attention to the statues, art lovers will look the other way and equally enjoy themselves to the full.
‘Najade’ is one of the early works of Alphonse Darville. The name ‘Najade’ refers to the Naiads or water nymphs (the name is related to the Greek word for ‘flow’). In Greek mythology Naiads are considered to be the daughters of the potamides (river gods). In her right hand the naiad holds a shell, referring to her origin: the source.
Darville is a great lover of classicism, the style in which he made his debut. He evolved first to expressionism and surrealism and then to contemporary styling, always maintaining authenticity. He is not only a draughtsman and medal designer but also a sculptor, subjecting his spectators to varied styles of work, with a dimension of Roman severity. In his search for absolute beauty and pure form and the balance between both, he surpasses all materialistic notions of figuration or non-figuration.
As the head of the Academy of Charleroi he was acquainted with and a friend of Karel Mechiels, at that time head of the Municipal Academy of Sint-Niklaas. Thus he learned about the initiative of Kunst in de Stad and because of his high appreciation, he not only provided the plaster of ‘Najade’ but also the marble statue ‘Adolescente’ (Salons for Fine Arts) and the bas-relief ‘Medaillon’ (AZ Nikolaas) to Kunst in de Stad.
DARVILLE Alphonse (1910-1990)
Sculptor, draughtsman, medal designer and ceramist Alphonse Darville was born in Mont-sur-Marchienne, and died in 1990 in Charleroi. He studied at the Academy of Brussels (1924-1928) and was a pupil of (among others), Victor Rousseau (1865-1954). He is the founder and head of the Academy for Fine Arts of Charleroi (1946-1972). He is co-founder of ‘L'Art vivant au Pays de Charleroi (Living Art in the Land of Charleroi)’. His work can be found a.o in the museums of Liège, Mons and Charleroi. He got an official commission to make monumental sculptures such as the ‘Bouwmeester (Master Builder)’ in front of the façade of the Palais des Expositions in Charleroi. Other works of his are bas-reliefs above the entrance of the Palace for Fine Arts and a bas-relief in gilded bronze, ‘La Gloire et la Paix’ for the entrance hall of the Charleroi city hall. He got the ‘Godecharle prize’ in 1931, ’Prize of Rome’ in 1935 for the work ‘Torse de jeune fille (torso of young girl)’ (Palace of Fine Arts, Charleroi).
Kunst in de Stad, May 20th 1989