Reggui, Orleans

The painter Guillaume Leunens is a person of feverish sensibility, who embraced his time with unconditional enthusiasm. His exhibitions in the Péguy showroom are a hymn and tribute to a material that is fundamentally characteristic of our time: metal, used more in our modern civilization than ever before.

Rather than submitting in a positive way to the reign of metal, Leunens has tried to penetrate its system in order to reveal its hidden threats. Craftsman and technician, but also endowed with a generous character, Leunens has in a certain way tried to exorcise the metal – in this case the aluminum – of a more poetic treatment and of being considered simpler and more noble than other metals, and to make it more favourable to man by revealing its beauty.

With this purpose in mind, he developed, after numerous experiments, a new language enabling the human spirit to penetrate the material. This was the completely natural development of an artist who, after having followed – not without a certain originality – the paths of traditional painting, chose still unexplored paths which lead him to the discovery of a new world. The world of night and stars, for which the aluminum with its texture and characteristics was just the perfect material. The effects he has created take the visitors’ breath away.

His large creations, with a whole variety of gray shades ranging from silver to dark and opposing each other, irresistibly evoke worlds in evolution or in opposition. The lines are shooting out with great passion; the sheets of granular gray cover shapes, either immense or cut to shreds, that make you, think of universes in permanent evolution. The lyricism of the stroke or line, the mathematical play of the curves and the profound graining give the aluminum a meaning that goes beyond it: an almost mystic fusion with the cosmos brought down to earth.

Besides his large works, we find above all metallic « monotypes ». Their style is the same, but they have been produced on paper sheets. They have been created according to a technique developed by Leunens, who is presently the only painter knowing that « secret ». The results are amazing. Each monotype possesses a power of emotion and beauty due to the mastery with which Leunens has engraved the metal. Roughness, unevenness, light: everything converges in order to restore the poetic virtue of the aluminum. Gray shades less hard or profound, blend in a subtle play in order to lend unexpected charm and attraction to the small work of art.

What is striking is the profound unity of the inspiration which, without repeating itself and because it is based on a continuing observation of reality, leads to creations of a unique style. It does not appear undue to conclude that Leunens is one of the few painters who are precursors in an art that is meant to express the world in evolution around us. He senses, with trembling sensitivity and sharp intelligence, the large trends of this world and expresses them by means of the material best qualified to enclose the maximum of human warmth.

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