Emma de los Angeles

  • 1984-1985
  • Eugène Leroy
  • oil on canvas
  • 194,9 x 130,1 x 8,5 cm
  • Location not on view.
  • Acquired in 1987
  • Inventory number 1519

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When you look at the painting 'Emma de Los Angeles' by Eugène Leroy you see the image of a naked woman appearing out of a large amount of paint. The painting is composed of short strokes of oil paint, which have been applied evenly in many layers all over the canvas. Where the light colours converge, the body of the woman becomes visible. There are no sharp outlines. The image merges into the background, as does the face and her dark hair. There are no details visible either in the figure of the woman, or in the environment.

For Leroy, the representation and the paint as a material are equally important. He explained: “My task is to conceal the anecdote in an interaction with the painting, an interaction that takes place little by little and needs time, but nearly always only produces the ash of a fire which mercifully glows through it or by good fortune…” Leroy based this on a picture, which he saw in reality and which moved him. However he did not reflect this directly and only allowed a trace of the original emotion to be reflected in his painting. In an almost endless process of revelation and concealment, of painting and painting over, the motif is almost completely concealed in the paint.

Light plays an important role in Leroy’s work; the light that is suggested by applying light colours, but also the effect of light and shadow which is produced on the painted surface as a result of the thickness of the paint. Leroy explained: “I really wanted to make a painting which has its own inner light.” He liked to work with backlighting because this blurs the difference between what is illuminated and what is concealed, what is secret and what is clearly present. Leroy is unique in the history of art. He followed his own path without interruption, independently of contemporary styles or movements. The creative process has a central place in his paintings. It was difficult for him to determine when a painting was finished. It was the act of painting itself that he was concerned with. Like reality, this is never completed. It is a search for an ideal, which can only be realized very briefly (when a canvas is finished).

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