De Waele-De Bock and Decker at LeQuire on May 17 to July 12
by Alyssa Rabun
Two widely recognized painters from different worlds discover a geographic commonality that now pervades their work. New Mexico-based painter Greg Decker spent his early childhood in rural Congo, and Nashville-based Belgian painter Marleen De Waele-De Bock lived in Mozambique and South Africa. Although their experiences varied throughout time and space, African influences permeate the artists’ work both aesthetically and thematically.
Their show, Marleen De Waele-De Bock and Greg Decker: New Work, on view at LeQuire Gallery May 17 to July 12, brought the artists together as colleagues and has solidified similarities between their vibrantly colored works, similarities that allude to snapshots of overlapping pasts.
De Waele-De Bock’s early watercolors were inspired by rich market scenes and a mosaic of personalities across Mozambique. “I was looking for things I don’t have in my own culture. I wanted to depict the sceneries typical of the environment there,” De Waele-De Bock reminisced.
Her recent acrylic works are landscape based and centered on the changing seasons. She is less focused on social commentary but retains elements characteristic of African design with bold colors, dynamic patterns, and lofty natural scenery.
Decker’s paintings in oil and watercolor combine rich narrative with native shape and pattern. Although his experiences living in the Congo were many moons ago, Decker draws inspiration from his past when incorporating pattern, form, and color.
“I am guilty of loving pattern, an unstoppable tendency in all culture(s). Some I believe is imbibed from Gustav Klimt; much I am certain comes from the vivid African fabric patterning I saw for much of my childhood, having grown up in Africa,” he noted in an artist statement. “In terms of color, I love color that is bold.”
De Waele-De Bock and Decker will lead a talk at LeQuire on May 17 from 5 p.m. that marries anthropology with art history. The duo will discuss their life experiences in Africa, how their connection to the continent has influenced previous work, and why experience dictates their styles and processes today. A reception will follow.