" HUFFINGTON POST " May 15, 2011
by Peter Franck
"... Christophe Leroux practices a kind of pop expressionism, spray painting a rigid, militaristic kind of graffiti into surprisingly, even disconcertingly fluid compositions in which seemingly incongruous images talk to each others in a kind of heraldic rebus."
SUIVRE LES TRACES DE CHRISTOPHE LEROUX by A. Moret
“Traces” introduces a large body of new works from Christophe Leroux including froissées, peintures (oil on canvas with Leroux’s burn technique), oil on paper with burns and gravure (engravings on zinc paper). Leroux’s appreciation of metal translates to his work on paper as metal serves as the base for the print works. The residues from the aluminum froissées are present on the paper and appear embedded within the paint. “Trace” reveals Leroux’s calculated handling of his art works however the labor-intensive process is camouflaged beneath a delicate handling of materials. The froissées are handled as carefully as the works on paper and both share textural properties- the use of stencils, the aluminum, and oil paints. Even the burn technique that appears on Leroux’s canvases and works on paper appear an effortless gesture, despite their rigorous planning and demand for a proper execution. Leroux conceals his high skill-set through his desire for a “concordance” to exist between the materials.
The title of the show “Trace” adds another layer of double entendre to Leroux that is already present in the works. In English “trace” means to draw, tracer, and has the implication of following the line of something that has already existed. In French however “trace” is a trail, a mark, or impression. Therefore it is a line that’s drawn and does not refer to the act of “tracing” but to follow in the tracks. To “trace” reiterates Leroux’s process of creating letters and numbers with stencils and refers to his aesthetic of “following in the path” of urbanity with the influence of graffiti, signage, and chrome trucks. Furthermore Leroux’s tendency to incorporate English words into his works rather than French words, comments on urbanization. Leroux suggests, “What I do is very industrial and where we live is urbanization so I really think it’s interesting to mix the French and English- French here in the States and English in France because it’s really a reflect of globalization. Like those people speak English now in Paris, like ten years ago no one. And now I swear in cafes the guys speak English and also the artist is the reflect of the society.”
The froissées or sculptures are industrial sheets of aluminum, meticulously designed with oil paint, stencils of letters and numbers, arrows, and acid. Leroux then physically wrestles the aluminum with his own hands to establish precise bends and points of articulation. Despite their aggressive handling, the froissées are nothing short of elegant and sleek. Leroux explains that the process of bending the aluminum is more of a science rather than an accident. “I really control everything when I work on the pieces and don’t leave anything by chance and always want to do something beautiful. The beauty of the pieces is very, very, important.”
The interaction of letters in a single word- the severe angles and implicit roundness- is every bit important to Leroux as the meaning of the word itself. One instance of Leroux’s word play is “Push” painted in the middle of a froissées that has been twisted, contorted and well, pushed to no avail. Two red arrows point in opposite directions signaling the manner in which the metal has been bent.
The froissées also reveal Leroux’s sense of humor. “Fragile” runs down a large sheet of aluminum that the artist has literally wrestled with, yet the sleek shine of the metal reveals a material as delicate as an unwrinkled piece of paper. Leroux’s deliberate manner of sculpting and painting means that no surface is left unnoticed. Even the backs of the froissées are coated in layers of industrial grade spray paint. Leroux’s handling of basic colors allows him to layer and mix the colors to the point of creating a surface never imagined with spray paint.
The froissées are an urban tableau, a visage of the modern world as they are reflectors of the graffiti and signage that we frequently encounter. Leroux’s use of accessible industrial objects connects his work the fabric of urbanity, but his calculated treatment and manipulation of those materials results in an artwork that is entirely new and unexpected. To experience Leroux’s work is what the narrator in Proust’s Swann’s Way must have felt like watching a delicate piece of Japanese paper expand in water as we both witness the blooming of complexity and simplicity.
- A. Moret, March 2009