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Painter Marleen De Waele-De Bock

Inspiration from Africa to America

Written By:  Lily Clayton Hansen

Photographers:  

Acquiring inspiration from Bruxelles to Brentwood, only a novel could justify the wildly colorful life of painter Marleen De Waele-De Bock. The Belgium born “free spirit” has lived a rather bohemian lifestyle with a three-year volunteer stint in Mozambique and more than a decade in South Africa where she designed a successful children’s clothing line. Clad in ethnic frocks and bearing a lifetime of traveling tales the ex-nomad explains, “My husband is a geologist and I am an idealist. In Mozambique I drew posters explaining the rules and regulations of the mining business because people cannot read there. Although my project was quite interesting it was difficult and dangerous and we made almost nothing.”

Moving from a chaos-stricken continent to one of Nashville’s most cosmopolitan neighborhoods, De Bock experienced both culture shock and rejection by many of the city’s commercial galleries. In 2003, the Parthenon agreed to host an exhibit of De Bock’s paintings giving the South a glimpse at the artist’s gift of capturing both the ordinary and extraordinary. “My first exhibition was of African sculptures from very expensive pieces to ones I purchased for $5 at the market. People still ask if l paint African sculptures and I say, No! I’m in America and inspiration comes from where you are.”

In typical chameleon-like fashion De Bock adjusted her art accordingly forgoing the exoticness of her former life for the quiet simplicity of blooming magnolias, rolling landscapes and portraits of her children. Contrasting the realism of her subjects with imaginatively layered, brilliant paint strokes De Bock’s work aligns with neither classic nor contemporary, spanning a spectrum of comparisons from the wild exoticism of Paul Gauguin to Mary Cassatt evocative family portraits. Relating her knack for precision and proportion to a traditionalist fine arts education De Bock explains, “My artwork is a little abstract, yet never completely. I always tell a story, something you can see.”

Recently the hen of an empty nest, the mother of three keeps busy teaching part-time at Franklin’s O’More College of Design and hosting the First Saturday Art Crawl at her own venue, Gallery BelArt. Perpetually armed with a camera and endless case of wanderlust De Bock continues to replenish her creative fuel with recent jaunts to Belgium, Rome and Istanbul. “I travel a lot and paint from my own photos. I try to find inspiration wherever I go.”

You can view De Bock’s work Green Hill’s Bennett Galleries, Franklin’s Gallery 202, and during the monthly Saturday Art Crawl at Gallery BelArt.

BelArt Studio/Gallery
The Arcade Building — (56 Arcade)
244 5th Ave. N
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 397-2347

 

 

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