Daniel Blau is delighted to participate once more in the “Collections” section, curated by Sir Norman Rosenthal. This year’s selection promises a stunning juxtaposition of paintings by Eugène Leroy and poi (taro) pounders from the Pacific.
Eugène Leroy (1910 – 2000) was a French painter whose works were typically made over many years, where paint was gradually applied to the canvas to create these magnificently thick, expressive surfaces. His paintings show his life-long preoccupation with light – how light is captured not only through colour, but through layers of paint. His contemplation of light and form shows itself most when we closely examine the paintings. Leroy’s thick surfaces are the results of his painterly quest to investage light. Areas he was satisfied with were left ‘thinner’ than those he needed to develop, add, layer until his desired result was obtained. His subjects, often nudes, become almost indistinguishable amidst the material density created. Though he remained largely unrecognised until the 1980s, he was awarded the Grand Prix Nationale de la Peinture in 1996 and his paintings are held in numerous public collections.
We will show a range of works from the 1960s to 1990s. Poi pounders, or Penu in Tahitian, are characterised by their beautiful, pure and essential form. They are used for pounding cooked taro root (kalo) into poi, a main staple of the traditional Pacific, mostly Polynesian diet. Taro root was steamed in an imu (earth oven), peeled with a shell scraper, and placed on a wooden pounding board to be mashed with the stone pounder. Most have been skilfully crafted from fine basalt or coral rock and sometimes show elaboration and embellishments on their handles such as carvings of humans and animals. The exquisite selection of 15 – 20 pounders we will exhibit at this year’s Frieze Masters has been collected over the last 30 years.
They are magnificent examples of how form follows function. The poi pounders are as equally utilitarian as they are evocative and sculptural.