WILLY DE SAUTERMEETING BETWEEN COLOR FIELDSJune 13 to August 01, 2020
Willy De Sauter’s oeuvre constitutes a remarkable path through time and space, with colour playing the part of the referee in a serial-methodological, deliberate game of chess, with rhythms of colour and form.
The gentleness with which De Sauter’s arts nestles itself like a mild melody against the flanks of our titillating reception of beauty, is anchored in a decades-long meticulously processing of how lines and surfaces merge with each other and with the backdrop of and interest in architecture and the surroundings where the work is presented and manifests itself. It’s remarkable that in hectic times such as these an artist like Willy De Sauter continues to dedicate himself to art with the greatest focus and passion for a flawless craftsmanship, in an attempt to reach and achieve the absolute.
De Sauter’s art is an amalgam of simple and not very spectacular means—bone glue, chalk, pigment and panel—that in their interconnectedness and mutual impact generate an art that slides past the world in a silken manner. The unique, wonderful colours that result from mixing chalk and pigment intuitively, by hand, function like a negative mirror of the world. The colour areas, bound by the rigid wooden support, present themselves both as ‘unique’ entities and in series.
Like the title of the exhibition suggests, the implicit contents of the work in series doesn’t reside on or in the panels, but indefinably in the dialogue amongst themselves. A dialogue that develops departing from the composition of the standard formats, which as series can be expanded as such and endlessly.
The dialogue between the various panels is based on a close alliance between what and how the work is visually perceived and projected against the ‘daylight’ on the open field of possible private, either poetical or art-historical associations, which can refer to a variety of meanings.
The recent work teems with life, and through heavenly sensitive mixtures of chalk and pigment it shows us cloudy echoes of the patient creative proceeding. The frayed edges are reminiscent of a creative process in which matter becomes partially independent of the artistic will of the artist. The colours, intensely floating between for example red, pink, blue and grey, entrench themselves in humane looking fields, in which the colour as such mixes with the ‘seeking’ acting hand of the artist.
Willy De Sauter strips the colour of its material autonomy; the colour loses itself in the acting subject of the artist, who lets all references regarding intentions and narratives solidify in the beauty of the colour that coagulates in the batch of chalk. Is this painting? Is this a form of two-dimensional sculpture or is this simply a formal longing for beauty that has reached a point here where language stops and surrenders to the supremacy of sensuous, sensory power?
Willy De Sauter has arrived at a moment in his career where he is capable of lending a tremendous immaterial quality to works of art that result in spirit and action from his urges and longings. Colour and matter absorb each other to become a full mass. An artistic state of things that is pregnant with the melody of the rich history of the fresco: the echo of the beautiful colours, forced into the plaster, of for example Italian wall paintings from the Renaissance, with the vibrating hues of blue and pink we have been admiring for centuries.
It’s as if the colours of De Sauter’s work remember these colours from the rich history of art. This recent work asynchronously holds up a mirror of colour that not only resists time, but also reflects like a gentle, refreshing breeze. This work reminds me right away of the most sensuous art of the late Italian artist Ettore Spaletti, who created art departing from an immense sensitivity and an equally immense sense of how colours vary in the open air, an art that thus followed the trail of De Sauter.
Willy De Sauter’s recent artistic production presents itself as an idiosyncratic way of handling colour, in which the visible traces of working meticulously relate directly to the open mind of a human being who embraces colour as a form of catharsis and the highest form of hope.
– Luk LambrechtTranslation: Dirk Verbiest
Untitled, 1982Sanded copper140 x 100 cm / 55.1 x 39.4 in
At the beginning of the 1980s, De Sauter started to extend his materials from canvas and paper to new materials and techniques, such as sanding and polishing metals. These two practices are opposites and relate to the phenomenon of mirroring. Sanding metal interferes with its mirroring qualities and prevents the world from intruding as "visible art" in the work of art. By polishing a metal surface the "thing" turns into a mirror and the work of art loses itself in the surrounding space and in "states" of the moment in and around a specific site. Thus mirroring effect partly an illusion, whereas a sanded surface creates distance. At the same time, he continues to pursue the theme of the line in the processing of surfaces, dividing them into different forms as if by lines. With this work De Sauter demonstrates the intrinsic qualities of a material such as copper, which he polishes till it shines, but he also lets it "be" itself. The untouched side of the metal shows signs of use and reveals its age through its surface.
Pigment and chalk on wooden panel50 x 256 x 5,5 cm / 19.7 x 100.8 x 2.2 ineach 50 x 50 cm / 19.7 x 19.7 inSigned verso on panel #5: W. De Sauter, 2020, Z.T.Since the 1990s, Willy De Sauter has been experimenting with applying layers of chalk to wooden panels. The chalk is mixed with animal glue, applied layer by layer to the panel and polished. With this technique Willy De Sauter harks back to the chalk-layered wooden panels used as far back as the fifteenth century preparatory to painting which originated in the same Belgian region where the artist is from. At the same time the work seems purified, typical of the minimalist art to which De Sauter has been allied since the 1970s. However, more concentrated attention to the work reveals subtle nuances, this thanks to the natural character of the chalk, the constantly changing drying process and the manual application of the material by the artist. Just as Niele Toroni deliberately posited the uniqueness of each impression rendered by his n°50 painting brush, so is every chalk-work of Willy De Sauter also different, not only because of format or color, but chiefly due to the subtle play with nuances found in the chalk surface.
Untitled, 2015/16Pigment and chalk on wooden panel55 x 182 cm / 21.7 x 71.7 ineach 55 x 45 cm / 21.7 x 17.7 inSigned verso on panel #4: W. De Sauter, 2009, Z.T.The recent work teems with life, and through heavenly sensitive mixtures of chalk and pigment it shows us cloudy echoes of the patient creative proceeding. The frayed edges are reminiscent of a creative process in which matter becomes partially independent from the artistic will of the artist. The colours, intensely floating between different shades of black and grey, entrench themselves in humane looking fields, in which the colour mixes with the ‘seeking’ acting hand of the artist. The result is a cloud-like surface that seems to hover over the wooden panel and flows out over the edges, leaving traces of paint that want to interact with their counterparts on the adjoining panel.
Untitled, 2012Pigment and chalk on wooden panel180 x 240 cm / 70.9 x 94.5 ineach 180 x 120 cm / 70.9 x 47.2 inDe Sauter’s art is an amalgam of simple and not very spectacular means—bone glue, chalk, pigment and panel—that in their interconnectedness and mutual impact generate an art that slides past the world in a silken manner. The dialogue between the two panels is based on a close alliance between what and how the work is visually perceived and influenced through light. By positioning one panel slightly before the other, the artist manages to provoke two different light situation in one work. Depending on the light In addition, the centered edge refers to De Sauter’s artistic origins where the line was the key element of his paintings and became a reference point of his process over the years.
Further available works
Untitled, 2020Pigment and chalk on wooden paneleach 60 x 45 cm / 23.6 x 17.7 inSigned verso on panel #2: W. De Sauter, 2020, Z.T.
Untitled, 2020Pigment and chalk on wooden paneleach 60 x 45 cm / 23.6 x 17.7 in
Untitled, 1984Brass, lacquer47 x 60.7 cm / 18.5 x 32.9 inSigned verso: Willy de Sauter "Untitled" 1984