STRASBOURG.- The Tourcoing Fine Arts Museum
celebrates the 100th birthday of Eugène Leroy by presenting 150 masterpieces from public and private collections from around the world.
Thanks to the exceptional donation made by Eugène Jean and Jean-Jacques Leroy, the MUba Fine Arts Museum, Eugène Leroy, Tourcoing bears witness to the importance of the painter today, both through the work and the personality of Eugène Leroy. The MUba has now become the global reference point for the painter.
The artist, with his singular identification to painting, expressed in a masterful manner the need to paint. The simplicity and natural style with which he pursued his research, the complexity and sheer scope of the pictoral range he offers spectators of his works, the generosity with which he treats the question of matter, which he confronts with his eternal search for absolute light and tone, all add up to make Eugène Leroy a unique painter. The critical preoccupation of abstraction within figures makes the substance of his work. The diversity of his explorations for over seventy years shows a profound knowledge of the founding history of painting and his struggle to bring the experience of the painter and spectator into the present day.
The exhibition brings together almost one hundred and fifty exemplary works, loaned from major public and private collections across the world, covering the entire chronological, thematic and stylistic spectrum of the artist. The exhibition intertwines three parallel stories: that of the great gallery of the museum, the laboratory dedicated to Leroys work and the chronology of the creative process.
In 2009, Tourcoing Fine Arts Museum received from Eugène Jean and Jean- Jacques Leroy an exceptional donation of almost 600 works by their father, Eugène Leroy; a generous gesture in recognition of the importance of the Tourcoing museum in the career of the artist. The Centenary Exhibition has been organised to celebrate this historic donation and to coincide with the creation of the Laboratoire Eugène Leroy and the renaming of the Tourcoing Fine Arts Museum as the MUba Eugène Leroy l Tourcoing.
Eugène Leroy was born in Tourcoing in 1910. He spent his whole working and painting life in the Lille metropolitan area, studied at the Ecole des Beaux-
Arts de Lille, taught at Roubaix, and died in Wasquehal in 2000. From 1952 to 1960, Eugène Leroy maintained regular and profound exchanges with the then head curator of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tourcoing : Jacques Bornibus.
Throughout these years, Eugène Leroy came regularly to wander the exhibition spaces of the museum, submitting his latest work to the critical eye of the curator and in confrontation with the museum space.
The relationship between the two men paid homage by the 2004 exhibition Eugène Leroy - Jacques Bornibus, une complicité, la peinture initated the creative dynamic and specificity the Tourcoing museum enjoys today.
Displayed as early as 1956, for the first time in any institution, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tourcoing, Eugène Leroy was soon to see his works regularly enter the museum collection. Despite coming late, the great recognition he received internationally owes to the fact he is an exceptional painter. His work is to be found in numerous international collections. His presence has increased year on year, making him an important historical figure.
Eugène Leroy began receiving critical acclaim in the 1950s: Prix Othon Friesz in 1957, exhibition with Sam Francis and Serge Poliakoff at the Galerie Art Vivant, Paris in 1954, Salon de Mai between 1956 and 1968, Dunkirk and Tourcoing museum exhibitions (1957-1958). In Paris, the Galerie Claude Bernard supported Leroy and showed his paintings. His way of working bore little ressemblance to the Ecole de Paris aesthetic, and the long labour required by each of his canvasses (some have to wait fifteen years to receive their finishing touches) is in complete contrast to the high productivity in a large part of the art world. For the past twenty years or so, his approach has been understood and accepted. His paintings have been shown regularly at the Werner Gallery - Cologne, Berlin, New York one of the most important in Europe, since 1983. Eugène Leroy is also represented by the Galerie de France. Exhibitions in the museums of Gent (1982), Eindhoven (1986 and 1988), Villeneuve d'Ascq (1987), the ARC of the Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1988) and the Musée d'Art Contemporain, Nice (1993), Bâle Kunsthalle (1997), Toronto (1999), Buffalo (2000), Roubaix and Tourcoing (2004), have since consecrated his work on the international stage. Eugène Leroy remains a unique artist, often compared to Nicolas de Staël or Jean Fautrier, whilst being influenced by Rembrandt and Piet Mondrian.