In this essay, Françoise Lalande provides a portrait of Pierre Lahaut. Her poetic texts, accompanied by the images of Lahaut’s work, offer a veritable dialogue between author and artist.

Pierre Lahaut is an important painter in the history of Belgian art, but he is also a free spirit, one who seizes upon changes in painting and adapts them to his own unique purposes.

His entire oeuvre bears witness to this from the mysterious false still-life Les Oignons roses, to sober abstract paintings from the 1960s, the poetic minimalism he terms “hyperrealism”, and finally to his playful paintings distant and hidden heirs to Surrealism in which objects are softened and transformed.

Lahaut plays at being frightened; and his work displays a fragile equilibrium in which the opaque becomes transparent and instability quietly triumphs; if there is force, it is hidden, because here delicacy is everything: variations in repetition, variations to more easily advance towards what we might call “freedom”.

Pierre Lahaut was born in Etterbeek in Brussels on 30 April 1931. He studied the sciences in high school in Brussels while following painting courses at a private academy in Ixelles. He lived in Brussels until 1958, and in Namur until 1960. He then left for Paris, where he worked for several years in the studio of the engraver Hayter, and where his family came to join him. In 1957, he was a co-founder and member of the “Jeunes Figuratifs Belges” group. In 1960 and 1961, he taught drawing at the Athénée Royal de Namur and the Ecole Moyenne de lÉtat in Wellin, as well as at the Ecole Saint-Luc in Mons from 1963 to 1965. In 1969, he was appointed professor in charge of courses in drawing and graphic design at the ENSAV of La Cambre, where in 1980, with help from Robert Delevoy, he created the Atelier de Dessin et de Stimulation Graphique. In 1967, he was elected a member of the Académie Picard (Libre Académie de Belgique). Since 1993, he has been a member of the French Community’s Consultative Commission for the Plastic Arts and he was made Professor Emeritus in September 1995. As an artist and a teacher, he considers his teaching work as an extension of his creative efforts; through shows of his work and many collective exhibitions, he takes a very active part in the cultural life of Belgium and in events abroad.

His work has been frequently shown in Brussels, Antwerp, Paris and Berlin, and is in the collections of many museums, both in Belgium and abroad (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Musée dArt Moderne in Brussels, Musée National dArt Moderne de Paris, Musée des Beaux-Arts dIxelles, Musée dArt Moderne dOstende, etc.). He has been the recipient of many prizes, including being named Jeune Peinture Belge in 1958 and 1959, first prize in the 1965 Berthe Art competition organised by the General Directorate for Arts and Letters and the Jos Albert Prize in 1990. For the past decade, he has divided his time between Paris and the Dordogne.

Françoise Lalande was born in the Ardennes to a French father and German mother. She is Belgian. For many years she lived in various countries in Latin America and North Africa. In addition to texts devoted to Arthur Rimbaud, her novels explore the post-Auschwitz world and the horrors it has engendered, particularly within a “love-crippled” family; her work gives voice to the voiceless and the unknown, and to those history has mistreated. She is Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. She currently lives in Tunisia.