Michael Werner Gallery, London is pleased to present Eugène Leroy: The Materiality of Light, Paintings 1950-1999, the first major exhibition of paintings by French artist Eugène Leroy (1910-2000) in the U.K. Spanning five decades, the exhibition includes rarely seen seascapes from the 1950s to the built-up almost sculptural paintings from the latter part of the artist’s career.
Living most of his life in Tourcoing, France, near the Belgian border, Leroy did not see himself solely in direct lineage with Northern European painters. Instead, he selected inspiration from a host of Northern and Southern European influences, including Poussin, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Van der Goes, Giorgione, Rubens, Giotto, and Bacon. Known for thick, layered paintings that he worked and reworked for sometimes over a decade, his painting was remarkably more about subtraction than addition.
Leroy sought to capture the presence or “the trace” of the subject. Light, and the way in which it is absorbed and reflected, was his primary concern. Culling from Northern and Southern art historical sources, Leroy also utilised Northern and Southern light through windows and mirrors in his studio that frame, blur, and highlight the landscape and subjects he often painted from life.
Throughout his long career, Leroy remained deeply committed to classical genres of painting, namely still-lifes, landscapes, and portraits. With over 25 works on view, Eugène Leroy: The Materiality of Light, Paintings 1950-1999 provides a comprehensive overview of the artist’s oeuvre as he explores the effects of seasons, passage of time, and movement of light.
Works by Leroy are in major American and European collections and have been exhibited at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris; Stedlijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; and Musée d’Art moderne et d’Art contemporain, Nice. He took part in documenta IX in Kassel in 1992 and in the Venice Biennale in 1995. The Musée Beaux Arts Tourcoing was renamed MUba Eugène Leroy in honour of the painter in 2010. Last year, the major retrospective Eugène Leroy: Peindre opened at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris to critical acclaim.
Eugène Leroy: The Materiality of Light, Paintings 1950-1999 opens on 9 February with a private view on 8 February from 6-8pm and will remain on view through 15 April. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-colour catalogue. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm.