Azorean island that welcomes you with an open heart: Over the past year something
mysterious has been happening all over this beautiful island, a gem of eco-tourism that
will surprise visitors and most likely put a smile on their faces as well as create some
bewilderment. In the most unlikely places they will see paintings of hearts on a flower
stem in such a great variety, no two alike, signed by the artist Yves Decoster. They
beautify and give a special welcome on old walls, the sides of homes, billboards and the
most unlikely surfaces. Now not only is Sao Miguel a magnificently green jewel, the
largest of the Azorean islands with stunning landscapes and a profusion of flowers, kindly
helpful people and the most laid-back atmosphere imaginable. No it is likewise the home of
Caldeiras, blue clean ocean, fabulous black sand beaches and high mountains dotted with
old and quaint small villages, beautiful ancient Baroque churches and a rich history,
thankfully not overrun by tourism. People find their way here to explore with knapsacks
hiking the well-marked trails and enjoy majestic vistas from the numerous miradouros in
the fresh air due to the large distances from any mainland.
So what is the story behind the mysterious paintings of heart-flowers in all colors and
designs that add an artistic charm and no doubt a smile as well as a certain warm feeling
in the area of the visitors heart?
Well since I know the originator and artist, two heart-flowers beautify our own balconies
and since there is a valuable lesson to be learned, allow me to share with you the events
that precipitated this wondrous development.
Yves and his partner Roland have lived on Sao Miguel for 23 years, two artists from
Belgium who both attended the Academy of Fine Art in Antwerp (Belgium), and until two
years ago they operated what in our opinion was THE best restaurant, an ambience of a very
special charm, classical music softly playing in the back-ground, a fire-place crackling
during rainy season and food so delectable that we became regular customers on special
occasions.Difficult to find on the back roads of Livramento but the in-spot
where everyone who was anyone sooner or later ended-up dining and word of mouth is the
best advertisement, in short, a place where you could relax totally and feel at home.
Then one day out of the clear blue, for so far unexplained reasons and questionable
charges, the restaurant was closed down not without great displeasure of many customers
generating newspaper articles and even a radio show discussing the matter. Remember, this
is a small island with more cows than people (150,000 people versus 300,000 vacas), thus
an event like this did not go unnoticed.
After the dust had settled and both of our friends Yves and Roland recovered their bearing
and good humor, Yves began painting the by now famous heart-flowers in quite obvious
locations at first, replacing anger and disappointment with love which, as we all know,
conquers all. More and more people saw them, inquired if they as well could embellish
their home with one of the by now famous flowers with the heart blossom and love grew
exponentially, so that soon there will be 100 of them all over the island and I would bet
my bottom Euro that there are going to be tourists who will make it their challenge to
find them all.
The exquisite nature and the distinct character of each painting stand out. Yves is such a
great artist with a talent for innovation and intuition of what fits where and which
colors compliment the background of his art-work; personally I marvel how he thinks of
some of the names and color combinations as well as the placement, even around the corner
of the entrance of a home in Ponta Delgada.
His largest work is displayed on the wall next to the main Government Building and called
Anima, showing a tree with heart-shaped blossoms. Every nice day he is out
there creating more joy and spreading the seeds of love. Come and see for yourself because
this is something you surely will NOT find on other islands sporting huge hotels and
crowded beaches, discos and entertainment galore. Find your very own serenity and be
welcomed by an open heart representing the spirit of the Azores inspired here and executed
by none other than a Belgian artist and his partner who are repaying evil with love.