Archival image from catalogue Galerie Claude Bernard. 1963, Paris.
Deux Arbres, 1962
Oil on canvas
76.77 H x 51.18 inches
195 H x 130 cm
Collection Simone and André Droulez, Reims
1963, Galerie Claude Bernard, Paris.
1963, Galerie Droulez, Reims.
Considered reclusive as a painter, Eugène Leroy was unaffected by mainstream art trends and movements, instead finding inspiration in his surroundings. Repeatedly painting his house and garden as well as the human figure, he developed a signature style employing layer upon layer of paint to create a thick impasto surface. Deux Arbres from 1962 is a prime example of the work from Leroy’s early period. Shown at the Claude Bernard Gallery in Paris and Galerie Droulez in Reims, where it was purchased in 1963, it remained with the original owner until now. By its sheer size, we know Leroy considered this a major work, and a subject he explored over and over. Like the Impressionists before him, he begins with a figural idea, but transitions beyond into a painterly tour de force. With painstaking technique, he creates a sense of spontaneity and movement, masterfully taking the surface to a point just short of chaos.
In 1983, on the enthusiastic recommendation of a young Georg Baselitz, Galerie Michael Werner began to exhibit Leroy’s works internationally. While gallery showings of the later work were well reviewed and embraced, especially by the younger so-called neo-expressionists, Leroy still considered himself something of a classicist. It was the ‘grande tradition de la peinture’ that compelled him, and he was awarded the French Grand Prix Nationale de la Peinture in 1996. While his unique vision straddles a line between traditionalism and expressionism, to us the painting speaks the language of modernity. In 2010, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Leroy’s hometown of Tourcoing in Northern France was renamed “Muba Eugène Leroy” in his honor.