Untitled (De Markten)
When the buildings surrounding and housing the De Markten social and cultural centre were restored, both the entrance underneath a portico and the inner courtyard were assigned a new identity. It then became appropriate to accentuate their role as areas welcoming visitors and directing them towards the various focuses of activity in the minds of the public. Reflecting the presence of an area presenting temporary exhibitions within the centre, the patron wished to involve an artist. Consolidating the centre's image, making reception playful yet highly effective, but also accompanying visitors warmly from the street to the courtyard were the desired objectives. The Fondation Roi Baudouin supported the project, so trying out the New Patrons programme.
The new floor covering is designed on the basis of the method the artist has elevated into a principle. Black and white granite slabs measuring 50 x 50 x 4cm are arranged in accordance with a precise geometric configuration, respecting the relationship between squares and intervals, despite the change of scale. To make it easier for people to find their way, wine-coloured (natural stone), yellow (Indian stone) and red (Peruvian stone) slabs mark axes leading to the entrance doors. Initially it was intended that the floor pattern should continue in the reception hall and therefore as far as the street, but as the reception hall is listed, this could not be carried out. Nonetheless, to accompany the paving and indicate the pictural dimension of his intervention, Toroni wished to carry out mural paintings in the spaces outlined by the panelling under the vaulted ceiling. Here the pictural principle regains its customary scale; the colour blue was chosen for the marks. The regular rhythm in which Toroni's method proceeds accompanies visitors along their entire path, and inevitably takes on a playful dimension in the courtyard where children immediately start playing hopscotch.
The mediator suggested bringing in Niele Toroni, in collaboration with the architect Zjef Vanuytzel. Toroni has been active since the late 1960s when he questioned the limits of the picture's possibilities in the context of the various events organized by the BMPT group, which laid the first markers for post-conceptual painting. His paintings thus always respond to the same basic principle, which is set prior to any implementation: marks of the same colour made by a brush are arranged regularly in a quincunx. A flat 50 mm brush is used; the intervals between each mark are 30 cm. Pursuing his work very quickly and alone, he has stuck to this radical and minimal method ever since, exploring it in the multiplicity of its manifestations. This commission in conjunction with the architectural context has allowed Toroni to set down his project on a permanent basis for the first time.