WAFELENBAK (PAUL DEKKER)
In the immediate vicinity of the Municipal Library you can find the bas-relief ‘Baking Waffles’ from Paul Dekkers. This work refers to Marc Sleen, a well-known Flemish cartoonist.
Marc Sleen is the pseudonym of Marcel Neels. He was born in Gentbrugge at the end of December 1922. In March 1923, the family moved to Sint-Niklaas. Marc Sleen grew up in in a well-to-do catholic family and had three brothers. Sleen’s father was endowed with a fine sense of humour and often told bedtime stories. That’s how Marc Sleen’s fascination for the art of storytelling and sketching was roused .
At the age of five Sleen was sent to boarding school. After two unhappy years and after having been very ill, he was allowed to return home. The family stayed in Sint-Niklaas until 1938, then, after fifteen years, returned to Gentbrugge. Marc Sleen doodled on anything anywhere and was clearly talented for sketching. At the age of fourteen, Sleen started sketching lessons on Sundays at the Academy of Sint-Niklaas. Later he attended lessons at the Sint-Lucas Arts School in Gent.
In 1984 Sleen became an honorary citizen of Sint-Niklaas. In 1988 Paul Dekker was commissioned by the city of Sint-Niklaas to make a bas-relief. The subject was ‘Baking Waffles’ because Sleen ends each comic album of the ‘Nero’ series with a feast where huge amounts of waffles are served. In the Paul Dekkers bas-relief one can find all the main characters from the comic strips of Nero. From left to right they are: Nero, professor Adhemar, Mrs. Nero, Petoetje, Petatje, Abraham Tuizentfloot, detective Van Zwam, Jan Spier, captain Oliepul, Mr. Pheip, Mrs. Pheip and their son Clo-Clo.
From 1972 till 1980 Dekker made purely figurative work, often inspired by the sophisticated Egyptian art. After his stay in Indonesia his work gradually became more abstract. Next to sober abstract works and abstracted compositions he also sculpts figures and characters, made of different materials.
Paul Dekker, sculptor, ornamental blacksmith and restorer, studied sculpture in evening classes from 1972 to 1979 at the City Academy of Sint-Niklaas where he was taught by Albert Tersago and Werner Heyndrickx. At the same Academy, he learned applied sculpture from René Smits (1973-1980). From 1981 to 1986 he lived and worked in Java where he became more proficient in sculpture, but also in ceramics, batik and ornaments. Afterwards he went on to study life drawing (figuurtekenen), colour harmony and jewel design in Sint-Niklaas and finally he studied wrought-ironwork under the guidance of Idir Mecibah in Antwerp (1991-1994). He started as a stonecutter and got several commissions. He did all the stonemasonry of ‘Het Steen’ in Antwerp (1977 – 1981) and the church of Alsemberg. In 1994 he became a member of the ‘Wase Kunstkring’ of Sint-Niklaas. From 1994 onward he teaches stonemasonry, stone sculpture, restoration and (stone) letter cutting in Brugge and Aalst.