To commemorate the death of Franz Grabmayr Galerie Michael Haas juxtaposes paintings by the Austrian artist with those by Eugène Leroy. Grabmayr highly respected Leroy as a fellow artist. It is a great honour for Michael Haas, who had a special friendship withFranz Grabmayr, to present works by both artists in a dialogue with each other.
Eugène Leroy, born in 1910 in the French city of Tourcoing, experienced a diverse range of art movements before his death at an old age in 2000. He was sixteen when Claude Monet died, and a contemporary of Malewitsch, Duchamp, Picasso, Pollock, Freud and Baselitz. He began his artistic training in 1931 at the École des Beaux-Arts in Lille and Paris, however he developed his particular style of painting above all auto-didactically. The deliberate, thoughtful artist spent most of his life in his place of residence, Wasquehal, in the north of France, where he had a studio from 1958 onwards. It is here that he created his œuvre, in which the motifs are neither concretely recognizable nor dissolve to become completely abstract. Leroy cared little for the frequently discussed ideological separation between the figurative and the abstract. If one looks closer, the textured layers of colour, at times several centimetres thick, come together to form a figure, a face or a landscape. Today, Eugène Leroy is one of the most renowned French painters of the 20th century and is represented worldwide in numerous significant public collections. The painter did not receive the recognition he deserved in his home country until his first large museum exhibition in the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1988. In Germany however, his talent was recognized much sooner and he also exhibited his works prior to this in New York,Amsterdam and Ghent. The Galerie Michael Haas has succeeded in putting together an extensive exhibition showing the later oil paintings and large format drawings.
Franz Grabmayr (1927 Pfaffenberg, Kärnten – 2015 Vienna) was predominantly inspired by nature when creating his thickly applied, impasto paintings. The elements of water, fire, air and earth repeatedly appear in the wildly applied masses of colour. Striking scenes of dancers, campfires and smoke, which Grabmayr staged in his courtyard in Lower Austria, were also captured in his works. With layers of paint weighing several kilos, he allowed the dynamic, creative process (some of the paintings were made on a tractor circling around a fire) to become tangible. Grabmayr first exhibited in 1952 in the exhibition “Junge Kärntner Begabungen” (Young, Corinthian Talent) at the Künstlerhaus Klagenfurt. Beginning in 1954, he studied for ten years at the Akademie der bildenden Künste Vienna under Robin Christian Anderson and Herbert Boeckl. The legendary “Sandgrube” paintings were created in the mid-1960s, followed later by the “Tanzblätter” series. He became a role model with his expressive, powerful work for younger painters, such as Herbert Brandl and Gunter Damisch. His last museum exhibition was at the Belvedere on the occasion of his 75th birthday.