de Nieuwe opdrachtgevers

les Nouveaux commanditaires

Emilio Lopez-Menchero – Flowers

Patrons - Merelbeke inhabitants
Curator - Luk Lambrecht
Merelbeke, Belgie, 06/2012

The patrons

The municipality of Merelbeke launched an appeal for its residents to become the patrons for a work of art for the renovated village center of Merelbeke. Some twenty people from Merelbeke decided to work on this art project as patrons.

The context

The place where the long-term project is planned is a symbolic place, a central square. It connects both a church, a library, the town hall, a monument to the two world wars and a stop for public transport on the busy Steenweg in Merelbeke.

The project developer's ideas about the design of the square with art formed a good basis that led to an interesting thinking exercise. The group of patrons soon managed to analyse the problems of this site, which remains half hostage to the decisive "razor-sharp" presence of the Steenweg. They quickly came to a synthesis of concepts that the "selected" artist had to meet when developing a proposal for a permanently integrated work of art.

Sound as a source of annoyance, ecology, wanting to have the "hearing" that was almost formulated as an allegory, the emphasis on poetry, the importance of the echo of the past and all this together with the location of Merelbeke between waterways were the points that had to be processed in one way or another during the genesis and the elaboration of the work of art.

Emilio Lopez-Menchero

From the proposed artists, the patrons group chose the Brussels artist with Spanish roots Emilio Lopez-Menchero. Emilio Lopez-Menchero was born in Mol in 1960 and studied architecture and art at La Cambre in Brussels. He took part in several major exhibitions such as Over the Edges (2000, Ghent) and TRACK (2012, Ghent) and can be seen both at home and abroad. He is a generous artist who, from his Spanish roots, not only effortlessly takes on the role of a toreador, but also loves performative staging.

The commission

On the basis of an intensive visit to the site and a careful study through books and information about the rich socio-cultural and economic history of Merelbeke, the artist was gradually immersed and touched by the "what" and "how" of the municipality of Merelbeke. Pictures of giants, wrestlers, cyclists as well as images from the Great War and the madness of losing life... are all items that kept faltering in his project proposals.

Based on the core ideas of the parons group and the research about Merelbeke, he formulated a number of "open" proposals that fit in perfectly with the substantive complaints and also remain realistic in the neighbourhood of the sharp budget that is available.

He thought of involving the site through elaborations of (already planned) floor fountains and immersing it in a magical play of water, light, sound and history. By means of the motif of the flower in the form of pixel patterns on the ground, the artist wants to use the square as a kind of inviting "bed" in which the flowers present themselves as inverted signs. The stem can be seen as the spray of water. Fountains as inverted flowers that together form a bouquet for Merelbeke!
The sound of the fountain should provide an antidote to the humming on Steenweg.

The flowers add a poetic dimension to the square that is surrounded by buildings such as the church, the town hall and the library - important places where a person gives meaning, law, knowledge and culture.

The inauguration

The new village square was officially inaugurated on Saturday 16 June 2012. With the appropriate slogan 'Merelbeke brightens up', all Merelbeke inhabitants were invited to attend this opening. The village square was full. The local brass band was present. The musicians were decorated with flowers, which Emilio Lopez-Menchero had made the week before with children and elderly people from Merelbeke. The parade, assisted by a few veterans, first placed flowers at the war memorial and then continued their journey to their new artwork 'Flowers'. The mayor and aldermen and the artist gave a word of explanation, and a client read a poem about the work of art. Then the many people present were rewarded for waiting: the button was pushed, and the flowers started to spout! The fireworks ended this colourful day and brightened up Merelbeke far beyond the municipal boundaries.