June 13, 2014 - Neue Galerie Graz – Universalmuseum Joanneum - Eugène Leroy
June 13, 2014

Eugène Leroy

Eugène Leroy, “L’Homme au printemps rouge/Mann im Frühling rot” (detail), 1990. Collection MUba Eugène Leroy, Tourcoing.

Eugène Leroy: Simply Painting
June 13–October 5, 2014 

In collaboration with the
Musée des Beaux-Arts Eugène Leroy

Neue Galerie Graz
8010 Graz
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm

T +43 316/8017 9100 
joanneumsviertel [​at​] museum-joanneum.at


It was never the shiny surface that interested the loner from North France, he simply wanted to paint, according to his résumé. The process or the reality of painting was a basic existential state in which Eugène Leroy operated throughout his life. Painting was not automatically a picture for him, and he certainly made no distinction between the representational and the abstract. He is rather an independent artist at heart, who seeks, as he put it himself, “balance between the demands of the visual and those of painting.”

Eugène Leroy was born in the Flemish north of France in 1910, where he also lived all his life and passed away in 2000. This also meant he could not be assigned to the classic trends in French modernism. What happened in Paris and the south of France was less decisive for this man than, for example, the Flemish and Dutch masters were. His life in the solitude of the north also led to an almost anarchic lack of convention, which from a traditional viewpoint makes him appear just as suspicious as it does from that of modernism. The liberation of the material from the independence of the image results in his case in the masses of colour that cover his canvases and superficially speaking characterise his art. To believe that here two-dimensionality turns into three-dimensionality, and that the sculptural aspect is important, leads us in the wrong direction. Rather, Leroy was also at pains to argue his point within the painting. Nudes, portraits, landscapes were the preferred motifs, besides still-lifes and vegetable forms.

Colour and light—above all that of the north—provided Leroy’s basic inspirations for painting. Through painting the artist appropriates a reality which time and again ends in the painting, yet only in a succinct way. The layering of colour, which appears exaggerated, does not aim at the material’s sensuousness, rather it emphasises the evolutionary character of its painting. In continuous processes, the artist applies the material, often over periods stretching years, expanding it to a cosmos that seen from close-up merges to a tectonic crater landscape, freeing up legible structures only from afar. Leroy’s goal was the ease and light-heartedness within the painting, speed was a permissible means for him only in the late years. 

Within the Austrian tradition, Richard Gerstl, Jean Egger or Herbert Boeckl can be mentioned as artists who likewise have built an ambiguous position around the accumulation of paint on the canvas. There, too, a painterly reality has been achieved in the most intense moments, which can be located between a likeness and a painting, and which is inadequately described with the term expressive. In a younger generation—above all around the time of the ‘New Painting’ of the 1980s—Eugène Leroy was received very intensely beyond the borders of France, above all. It has thus been an ambitious goal of the Neue Galerie Graz to mount a comprehensive show of this artist for the first time in Austria. In Denys Zacharopoulos, the museum has succeeded in finding a curator who is both a connoisseur and personal friend of Leroy. By collaborating both with Zacharopoulos, who has worked many times and in depth on Eugène Leroy, and with the Musée des Beaux-Arts Eugène Leroy as a partner, it has proven possible to define this exhibition with an outstanding selection from Leroy’s body of works for Graz. Besides some 60 paintings, around 40 drawings and etchings by the artist are on show. 

Curated by Denys Zacharopoulos and Günther Holler-Schuster

Neue Galerie Graz – Universalmuseum Joanneum
Share - Eugène Leroy
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York