Since the sixties of the previous century, the consequence of the capitalist pursuit of progress is under discussion. The modernistic system of values and the criteria of quality are put in a different light. The western patent to determine the norm of quality loses its credibility. Changes in society initiate a greater need for diversity, one sees through the myth of the mainstream. In this turbulent but inspiring age Leon Wildschut (1955, the Netherlands) makes his first work. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, the contrasts in the world have become more considerable and complex. More than ever, mankind is a pawn in the production process and the consumers’ conduct that is closely connected to it. The striving for unicity makes traditional values fall into oblivion in exchange for too much artificiality. Unfortunately, people are easily led down the road of superiority , which has ultimately led to the exchanging of nature for culture. Something has gone wrong down the road, we have lost the balance.

        Wildschut likes to contemplate ideas about less cynicism and more creativity. His emotional reactions on the status quo form the direct impetus to his work. The creative process is an actual release for him. He attempts to translate the released energy into images that present themselves as omens. They refer to the suffocating sphere of influence the modern man is confronted with. At times he also lets the images function as indicators in the archetypical landscape. He places pictograms from diverse cultures and times next to each other. They are like souvenirs from past times but of which the meaning is still part of the reservoir of significance we have at our disposal these days. Wildschut unleashes different images in order to generate connections on various levels. He dislikes clichés and aims at creating a language of images that refer to his vision on reality. The (post) modernist reality demands reflection. With this Wildschut is inspired by drawings we know from prehistoric caves rather than by the deeper meaning of video art.

        Collage like techniques and the maintaining of accidental effects that arose by “playing” with the material, gives the work a deeper layer of significance. A flash of inspiration, a photo found in a magazine , fragments from a conversation, the radio that is on, in principle everything can be used. Every material has its own emotional value of which the message is used optimally time and again. Graphic effects, stencils and parts of a text here and there strengthen the image. Occasionally he zooms in on the reality he has raised. Other times he enlarges something he frames afterwards, which makes the image more compact. The titles he gives to the works are often part of the total message whereas he never signs work at the front “ not to influence the intrinsic value of the work”. The same energy that moves him to paint and draw also leads him to France. He takes up residence in the Creuse near Aubusson that has been the centre of the art of weaving for centuries. A cooperation with some tapestry weavers arises. His experiment with material gains an extra dimension when a number of tapestries are made according to his design. A traditional, ancient discipline is added to his work which already showed clear affinity with the traditional methods of artistry.


art historian

translation: Carolien Hendriks