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Slabbinck was a son of Henri Slabbinck and Elisabeth Andries. Rik took lessons at the Bruges academy and at the Sint-Lucas in Ghent, where the desire grew to go through life as an artist-painter. He was briefly accompanied by Constant Permeke.
In 1936 he had his first exhibition in Ghent and in 1937 at the Center for Fine Arts in Brussels. In 1938 he built his studio, later also his home, in the Sint-Pietersmolenstraat, from where he had an unobstructed view of the polder. After the war, in 1946, he married Lily Neef and they had two sons.
In 1940 and 1943 he was Second Prize of Rome. In 1945 he co-founded La Jeune Peinture Belge, but withdrew from it in 1947, together with Luc Peire and Jack Godderis. From 1950 he abandoned the dark Permeke colors to evolve into the rich and sunny colorite that characterized his later work. In 1950 he obtained the Second Prize for landscape painting in Santa Marghereta (Italy) and in 1953 he spent a long time in Provence.
The main themes of his paintings are landscape, still life, portrait and nude. He portrayed Herman Teirlinck, Stijn Streuvels and Jan Vercammen, among others. Slabbinck also produced numerous drawings and lithographs.
In the late 1960s, Simon Vinkenoog and Lies Westenburg (VPRO) visited his studio in Bruges for a TV report that was broadcast in the Netherlands. In 1992 an association Rik Slabbinck was founded in Bruges with the aim of honoring his memory.
Around 2010, an unsuccessful attempt was made to save his house and studio in the Sint-Pietersmolenstraat from the demolition.