New York

Eugène Leroy

Michael Werner Gallery/Edward Thorp Gallery

The surface of Eugène Leroy’s paintings is dense but far from sluggish, claustrophobic and epic in its painterliness, yet peculiarly spacious and lyrical in effect. Overloaded to the point of chaos, it remains uncannily, indeed sublimely harmonious as if it had a powerful life of its own. This surface not only “breathes,” in Clement Greenberg’s famous sense of the word, but breathes vigorously. Indeed, Leroy’s paintings give the lie to Greenberg’s partisan belief that American Abstract Expressionist painting is more spontaneously alive than French Tachism.

And yet, Leroy’s paintings are not exactly “informal,” for all their apparently chance gestures. These gestures may seem illogical, but they ritualistically pile up in layers that inwardly uphold the surface. In a sense, Leroy reverses Anton Ehrenzweig’s prioritization of the basic elements in painting. Whereas for Ehrenzweig the surface

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