It was a simple design but created with enough precision to be observed in its entirety in a quick glance thanks to the clarity of the overall image. In the same composition we find horizontal, vertical, oblique and curved lines, squares, rectangles, triangles, segments of circles and seven different colours. The interpretation of the work of art is dependant on the state of mind of the observer, who can see it as a flat surface or in three dimensions. The work of art is clearly a personal expression in terms of composition and use of colour. "Ortem" is situated above a staircase. When descending towards the platforms, the observer can take in the whole work of art with one glance, thanks to the overall clarity of the work. Above all, Jean Rets did not want his work to "disappear" into its surroundings but to stand out from them and attract attention.
Jean Rets (Paris, 1910 – Antwerp, 1998).
Jean Rets was a member of the APIAW (Association pour le Progrès Intellectuel et Artistique de la Wallonie), an association very similar to "Jeune Peinture Belge" (Young Belgian painting), which had the aim of opening up art to the contemporary international and progressive movements. Rets was already open to cubism before the war. From the 1950s onwards, Jean Rets developed a personal language of shapes and a refined use of colour. Rets is best known for his non-figurative geometric designs, to which he adds a refined touch, in his monumental works of art and through the integration of visual arts into architecture. He has mostly active in the area around Liège, designing a stained-glass window in Guillemins train station and performing a colour study for the steel factory Thomas, Cockerill-Ougrée. He was mostly active in the area around Liège, designing a stained-glass window in Guillemins train station and performing a colour study for the steel factory Thomas, Cockerill-Ougrée. Jean Rets also worked with sculpture, in which light plays a structuring role.
The central theme of this low-relief is two circle motifs on the platform side walls which look just like a triumphal arch ("Isjtar" is the goddess who gave her name to one of the gates of Babylon under the rule of Nabuchodonosor). Here the opposition is between open circles and squares and closed circles and squares in two tones. The five elements on the tympanum and the two panels on the side walls form a synthesis of Gilbert Decock's works, which use a language full of imagery. Decock describes the development of the five part frieze as follows: "The square comes from the bottom left behind the open circles; it appears image after image, until it becomes a closed head motif on the right. This progressive movement towards the foreground offers the continuity of a cartoon. This regularity is however (consciously) interrupted by the strongly emphasised open window."
Gilbert Decock (Knokke, 1928)
Gilbert Decock is one of the artists born between the two world wars who vitalised the geometry-based constructivist movement during the 1950s and 60s. The quest for a progressively greater austerity of means led to the use of black and white, dark brown and square and circle shapes which he used to create almost inexhaustible variations. His circle-square contrast can be compared with the opposition between male and female, day and night or yin and yang. Like many other artists of his generation, Gilbert Decock believed that the reduction of colours and shapes could lead to a greater elegance than baroque excess. But this simplification is only an advantage if it is the result of a process guided by a great feel for colour and a highly developed sense of shape and proportions.