Walter Leblanc

(1932 in Anversa, Belgium –  1986 in Silly, Belgium)

Walter Leblanc (Antwerp 1932 – Silly 1986) is one of Belgium’s key international art figures of the second half of the 20th century. In 1958, he became a founding member of the neo-avant-garde artist group G58 in Antwerp, which brought together young artists representing a variety of trends. For Leblanc, 1959 marks the affirmation of his use of torsion as the principal pictorial element in his work. In 1960, he produced, with the help of his brother, a definitive version of his twisting machine, which enabled the production of very precise torsions. He actively participated in the movements ZERO and Nouvelle Tendance, and took part in the following major international exhibitions: The Responsive Eye (1965), Weiss auf Weiss (1966) and Serielle Formationen (1967). ln 1967, he was a prize-winner at the Ve Biennale de Paris, and in 1969, he won the Prix Eugène Baie de Peinture. In 1970, Leblanc was named one of the Belgian representatives of the 35th Venice Biennale, and in 1974 he became Chevalier de l’Ordre de Léopold II.

The Belgian artist Walter Leblanc (1932-1986) was an outstanding figure in post-World War II European art, whose importance is drawing international attention.  Unquestioned is Leblanc’s place among the masters of what can be defined the ‘poetics of zeroing’ of the late 1950s, developed in the context of the ZERO movement and network between Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy. Considered one of the pioneers of contemporary artistic practices, rather than defining his work as geometric abstraction, Leblanc’s art is a case of a sensorial geometry, constantly nourished by an experimental curiosity about unorthodox materials (such as cotton threads, latex, PVC, metal), as well as by a constructive tension and a focus on the dynamic power of light. Twisted Strings, Mobilo-Static, Schematic Torsions, are some definitions he coined for his works, whose complex essentiality anticipates optical and minimal trends: their unifying element is the torsion of the material, to twist the space of our experience. Leblanc wanted to go beyond the traditional concept of the artwork understood as a sur­face or an object to contemplate, in order to create a space of experience that requires the active involvement of the viewer through perception and deciphering. Many contemporary art trends have subsequently adopted this expressive reduction as an opportunity to involve both the body and the mind of the viewer.