Louis Fransen in Hoogstraten
1928 – 2010
From Hoogstraten to Japan
past murals, stained glass windows and mural ceramics.
Placed by the artist in four schools in Hoogstraten.
on school days
from Monday to Thursday between 9:00 and 16:00 pm.
Km 0 Vrijheid 113: Pavement stone ‘CREARE’
Creare is the enterprise where Louis created stained glass windows and mural ceramics and which he used to coordinate the placement of these works in public institutions all over Japan.
The title was designed by the artist. Creare means ‘to create’, the Chinese signs also stand for ‘freedom’ and ‘ create’.
Km 0,750 via K.Boomstraat en Oststraat to VITO :
Mural in entrance hall: “Ambachten” (Handicrafts) (3,10m x 1,65)
Louis Fransen had a special appreciation for artisanal handicraft, for people who were able to make something beautiful with their hands. Teacher Patrick Van de Wouwer writes about this : “The artwork is fragmentised like a stained glass window. There is a piece of sun, a piece of church, three pieces of apprentices, a piece with woods, one with mountains and one with a piece of the sea. The play with colours is very important. The left side pieces which represent nature are light in colour while the compartments on the right, the ones with the machine and the metal worker are darker. The sun, that looks like a large yellow rose, on the left side of the work, and the cog wheel on the right, make everything spin, it’s one swirl.
The apprentices look up, to the sky, to the church and to God. They are facing a hopeful future. At closer inspection, they appear to be more than pupils of the VITO: they carry the whole past and future of craftsmanship with them.”
Mural mosaic, left next entrance VITO
Saint Joseph with saw (Sint-Jozef met zaag) (1,90m x 5,80m)
Tall figure in traditional clothing that references a squire, rather than a carpenter of Saint Joseph, patron of the carpenters.
Km 0,900 Entrance hall Land- en Tuinbouwschool
Mural painting: The sower, young farm household (De Zaaier, jong boerengezin) (3,10m x 1,65)
The mural shows a robust, male figure, who has cultivated his land and now sows the fertile soil, while his wife watches, smiling and happy, together with their child.
Km 2,00 Via de Vrijheid naar Klein Seminarie, Vrijheid 234: entrance left next to main building through yellow gate, 100m further under the passageway
Terracotta halfreliëf: Youngsters playing music (Musicerende jongeren) (6m x 2,20m) 1971
248 pieces of dark brown clay from the Campine grew together forming a magnificent whole. Louis commented on the work: “It’s a chunk of lyric poetry that wants to invite people of the school let themselves be carried into the space of the mind and the regions of beauty. It has something to do with the art of life.”
Km 3,500 Via Vrijheid and Lindendreef to VTI & Hotelschool Spijker, Gelmelstraat 62
Monumental ceramic: Memories of my youth (Herinneringen aan mijn jeugd)” (28,4m x 3,40m)
The first shows a landscape from the Campine with a lot of green, some houses and some church towers rising above in the different villages. At the bottom we see the artist’s signature “RUI”, his Japanese name after he was granted the Japanese citizenship in 1990. The tag mentions “Modern Mural Arts Institute” the firm that constructed the work.
The second scene titled
Tweede tafereel met als titel “Then the carillonist could play” (Dan mocht de beiaard spelen) is all movement without colour. There is no beginning or end: a cross-section of different figures. First, there’s the monumental carillonist that swings with his fist towards the keys of the carillon while to the right of him the bells toll. To the left we see the wobbly tower of the Saint Catherine’s church, conceptually inspired by the artist Alfred Ost, who made numerous paintings and drawings of the church tower in Hoogstraten. A row of lime-trees forms the connection with the central scene, topped by the Japanese sun, part of the Japanese flag.
The centrepiece of the ceramic depicts a banquet, inspired by a similar French “Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Barry”.
The count and countess of Hoogstraten, Antoon de Lalaing en Elisabeth van Culemborg, sit in the center of the tabel, surrounded by musicians and lackeys. The countess dissuades the count from pouring more with a gentle gesture… On the right we see two salmons, the coat of arms of the successors to the count, the family of Salm-Salm. On the right we see seven strawberries, the pride of Hoogstraten. The whole is very colourful with a lot of gold, blue and red.
The presence of bread and wine might reference a banquet in the Hotel Management school, but also the celebration of Mass and the experience of art, gastronomy and joy of life.
The dream castle is the keystone of the work: it floats in thin air, it’s a part of the dream that he experienced as a child in the castle of the count.
9 stained glasses: “Whispered meetings” (Gefluisterde ontmoetingen)
The traditional art of stained glass consisted predominantly out of painting on glass. Nowadays, the artist rather tries to bring out the best of the natural glass, in terms of colour, transparant, expressive texture with deep colours and comes from the border region between Germany and Czechia where glass blowers still manufacture this unique kind of glass in the traditional way.
The two closing, elongated panels have a different shape and form. One panel carries the letters, ICH and DU. The artist refers to the work of the philosopher Martin Buber and indicates that the very first beginning of everything is: Living and Meeting.