Belgian artist Willy De Sauter has been working on a consistent oeuvre since the 1960s, using a fundamental form language. While his first works mainly consisted of repeating line patterns, he shifted his focus more recently on monochrome chalk paintings and objects.
In the early 1970s Willy De Sauter developed a visual language that looked very minimal. In several series of drawings from those years, Willy De Sauter consistently worked with the vertical line. For example, De Sauter made a series of works for which he took a photo from a magazine (such as a boat or a herd of giraffes) and then copied the vertical lines in the photo (the masts of the boat, the giraffe necks) in the same size in a drawing. De Sauter drew what he saw, but without the reference to the original photograph it became an abstract drawing. After these initial experiments De Sauter made several series of drawings with a procedural character, for example by doubling lines each time until the final drawing became a completely black surface. In other series of drawings, he developed a game with the length or thickness of the line. Drawing a line became an attitude, a choice to lead artistic creation back to its essence.
In the 1980s, space became an important element in De Sauter's work. From then on he would only make three-dimensional images on the one hand and work that explicitly refers to architecture on the other. In several life-size drawings De Sauter revisits structures of buildings that appeal to him because of their modernism, such as the Wittgenstein House in Vienna. As an artist, De Sauter feels akin to the architect who also seeks order and creates structure.
The recent monochrome crayons by Willy De Sauter are a continuation of his years of research into a fundamental approach to art. The simplicity and skimpiness of the work are the result of his relentless reduction process to come to the essence. Nevertheless, these works also demand an intensive and artisanal creation process and thus also an involvement of the artist. Despite their minimalist appearance, the chalk works can certainly also be related to the Western painting tradition: the Flemish Primitives already used a mixture of chalk and glue as a base layer for their wooden panels. At first glance they do not seem to be more than a sterile white panels, but when you take the time to look you are seduced by the organic matter, the pinstripes in the surface, the rich intensity of the white, the contrasts between smooth and matt, the changing game with daylight.
A rhythmic pattern is created in the room by presenting them horizontally on the floor or on tables or to install them vertically against the wall. Willy De Sauter always tries to rid the exhibition of visual noise or pollution that distracts attention. In this way, an exhibition by Willy De Sauter becomes a serene space that can even have meditative quality for some spectators. The visual calm that he continually recreates in his work challenges the viewer to take time and to concentrate and experience the richness of subtle visual stimuli. As an artist, Willy De Sauter is not interested in the spectacular gesture, but wishes to redefine the foundations experiencing art in a radical way through his work.
(text partly derived from brochure Museum Dhondt Dhaenens)