Interview: Philippe Leblanc
Luca Curci talks with Philippe Leblanc, one of the winners of the ARTIST OF THE MONTH – JULY 2020.
Turnhout, Belgium • 1964. An artist sensitive to rationality and the purity of forms, Philippe Leblanc finds inspiration in mathematics, in famous series like Fibonacci’s, conical shapes and emblematic numbers such as the golden number, Pi, and root of two. His creations of abstract appearance are based on the writing of numbering systems from distant cultures, which confers them a mysterious formal balance. He imagines time machines and calendars according to strict rules which then fade away to retain only their random and enigmatic character. His works include wall sculptures, light boxes, hanging mobiles, motorized carousels or raised puzzles, all sharing the same geometric language. These greatly demanding formal requirements translate into an equally demanding execution, which involves the technical mastery of various materials such as paper, metals, plexiglass.. The colors, the minimality of white, the non-materiality of mirrors, cut-outs and translucent pieces, reinforce a play with light as well as a notion of spectrum or series, while evoking the memory of the underlying writing. An architect-engineer by training, Philippe Leblanc is attentive to the interaction of his sometimes monumental creations with their surrounding space, the movement of the observer and the changing qualities of light. Welcoming space, welcomed work and the perception of the spectator-actor then complement each other for an ever-renewed experience. His work exploits and expresses the paradoxes between rigor of concept and material constraint, underlying rules and apparent randomness, mathematical aridity and playful experiences, bringing forward his idea that art must both stimulate and soothe the mind. Philippe Leblanc lives and works in Brussels.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Philippe Leblanc – Art is a source of joy and happiness. It is a way of showing the beauty, the positive reality of the world. I love art that stimulate and soothe the mind at the same time.
LC – What is your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
PL – I studied and worked as an architect for more than 20 years. I love the right proportions, the play of light, the combination of colors and materials. But the discovery of the Op Art, kinetic art and abstract geometry of the 60s/70s, had a decisive effect on my artistic orientation.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
PL – Today I am most influenced by mathematics: geometry, numbers, series. I am also intrigued by the history of mathematics and writing, a means of transmission of knowledge through generations and different cultures.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
PL – An artist must provide subjects for reflection, but arouse emotions of peace and harmony. He/She has a kind of responsibility: in these challenging times, art can allow us to dream, to escape, but also it should help us to see the big picture. I like to express timeless themes, common to all cultures, which give a sense of universality.
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
PL – Certainly. Some visitors react by telling me that they are not attracted to mathematics, but they are delighted to see my artworks. It means that the proportions, the compositions are fair, attractive, even if they follow strict mathematical rules. Other visitors bring me some suggestions for new materials or different scales, and these conversations help me to develop new ideas and clarify my artistic choices. Meetings with visitors, curators of specific exhibitions, made my vision more definite and reinforced my need to develop a specific path.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
PL – I would not say that my style has changed. I have always been enticed by abstract geometry. But the techniques and themes have evolved: lasercut stainless steel, Plexiglas, and 3D printing have replaced salvage materials, complex mathematical rules have replaced simple symmetrical patterns.
Being an artist is also accepting change