packageAfter fifteen years in Tunisia, the painter Jean Demeulemeister (60 years old) returns to Ronnes. On March 23, he will open his new tire shop at 11 Wijnstraat. Thirty years ago he did this already in Kegelkaai. “I hear music playing all day again, I see young people rehearsing, drawing and building. My life is back in balance. This leaves room for new initiatives.”
During the lockdown in March 2020, Jan made the decision to return to his hometown of Ronnes. Until then, he ran a bed and breakfast in Tunis for fifteen years. “I moved away from Runes so that I could work in peace. After years of not being still, this was a big step. I was active on many fronts: as an illustrator and author, but I also worked in theater productions and was on stage with rockabilly group Johnny Weissmuller and Rockin’ ‘Pirates. I was Johnny, just to be clear. I was also involved in local politics. This was all a lot together. In Tunisia I found peace and love.’
In January 2011, Jean Demeulemeester faced the Jasmine Revolution in his new homeland, a difficult period although basically not much has changed. “In November 2019 I took a trip with some friends to the Southern United States, the region where rock (apple), gospel, jazz and blues come from. I saw the little homes where my heroes were born, little homes where there is no weakness compared to those great mansions. From the movies. That was a special experience. Returning to Tunisia, I began to reconstruct that journey with new oil on canvas. This is how I survived the closure. There was a time and a new approach. The works I have done since are now more sober than before and more metaphorical It fits with changing circumstances. I’m still working on this series, I appreciate another six months. It combines two passions: music and painting. Then there is also the history of the civil rights movement that took place in those southern states of the United States. All my thing” .
It’s always good to come back to Ronnes. We already said it when we got back to town after a holiday: it’s actually very clean here.
back to home
The closure increased the desire to return to Rons. “I’ve only seen the grandchildren through a computer screen for a year and a half, and it’s hard. Coming back to (Rons) is always nice. We used to say that when we got back to town after the holiday trip: It’s actually very clean here. You have a little bit of that if it’s over. You end up in Vilford again, for example. I was also lucky. I began to restore paintings, for example at Pamelekerk in Oudenaarde and Sint-Apolloniakerk in Elst. They were also looking for a concierge at Cultuurcentrum De Ververij in Ronnes. At first I thought : Is that something for a freelancer like me? But it went well. I hear music playing all day, I see young people practicing, drawing and building. My life is back in balance. And that leaves room for new initiatives.”
So one of my activities has been framing artwork from thirty years ago. “I have been in good contact with many suppliers since that time. And a lot of the people I met on the street said, ‘I still have a business on hold that I framed at the time. Would you start that again?’ Eventually I said spontaneously: ‘Yes, I will.’ And now It’s time, from March 23. There is a space for painting above the shop, which was also an important argument. As a result, I am now completely back, and many of the experiences are a little richer and wiser.”
And Johnny Weissmuller, is he back again? “Johnny sang briefly with Rockin’ Pirates last summer, but that was a one-off. That period is over.”
Jan Demeulemeester framing, Wijnstraat 11, open from 23 March. All information on the Facebook account.
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