Francisco Leroy, the Rise of an Irresistible Genius

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It’s been a long time since Francisco Lero (Cambados, Pontevedra, 64) came up with ideas for his new projects as he travels around the world. Tribeca’s New York Neighborhood, where he has lived since the early 1990s. He schematically writes and draws almost everything that happens to him on small pieces of paper he keeps in his pocket. Lero doesn’t know whether these notes will come to life until he returns to his workshop in Cambados. It will be the trunks of the pine, oak or chestnut tree that will tell him whether it is possible the birth of new characters with which to enhance the fantastic metaphors that populate the artist’s world. The last stop for wood already converted into sculptures is in Madrid, in his luxurious workshop next to the Plaza de Toros. Chiselled, polished, painted, they go out into the world ready to be admired at exhibitions and museums in Europe and the United States. The final sample is led a filea da portera (2021) and can be seen at Marlborough’s Madrid Space until 19 November.

At the age of 64, Lero maintains the usual type of appearance, not the obscene, with which he came to study in Madrid of the Transition, when in the morning they ran into several demonstrations and at night they spread through the premises of Movida . Dressed in black with summer shorts, Leroy can be confused with Quentin Tarantino in the mid-range. He shares a similar stocky body with the American director, his frizzy hair and the same mix of excitement and humor when it comes to his characters.

The highlight of the exhibition is not his most recent work, but it perfectly summarizes how some of the characters have evolved that are born from a cross between fantastical imagery. Lewis Carroll and the descriptive power of Chavez Nogales, a filea da portera (the caretaker’s daughter) is a block of chestnut wood measuring 2.26 by 1.37 meters in which a pot hangs around the neck of the girl, who may be the mother. Gray complexion and without human features on the faces, only a touch of pink and yellow gives a clue about the girl. The artist wants the viewer to imagine the story. He recalls that the figure of those occupying the gates of buildings has flown tirelessly through literature and says that, in this case, the idea haunted him for a long time. He recognizes the New Yorkers as “super” as the superintendent of the building, whose functions lie between that of a doorman and getter.

Francisco Leiro next to his sculpture ‘Manguitos’, displayed at the Marlboro Gallery in Madrid.Courtesy of Marlborough Gallery

Due to its large dimensions, a filea da portera She enjoys one of the most spacious rooms in the gallery. More than thirty characters of various sizes are distributed among the remaining rooms forming the forest, such as Manuel Vicente wrote in an article in EL PAS last yearThe branches of trees would become human figures. Vicente described, “This Galician sculptor, protean and unlimited, capable of handling the toughest saws sometimes with the precision of a scalpel and sometimes as a self-defense weapon, the goblins, the Avatars, are giant contortionists. ” “One can imagine that this artist’s work has a very physical character of fighting against his dreams like a force of nature.”

The only boy in a family of five siblings, Lero learned stone carving in Santiago de Compostela and completed his training in drawing and modeling at the School of Fine Arts in Madrid. He arrived in the capital in 1976, just a year after Franco’s death, with a transition going on and an unstoppable cultural fervor.

His first relevant exhibition was at the Montenegro Gallery in Madrid, when he was 27 years old. The owner died, but as luck would have it, in 1989 he met in Barcelona the President of Marlborough, Pierre Levai, the famous magician of contemporary art, who offered him an exclusive contract with such famous names as jackson pollock, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon either lucian freud,

Lero, with work 'Pirata'.
Lero, with work ‘Pirata’.Courtesy of Marlborough Gallery

When in 2004 he was able to showcase his work at the Palacio de Cristal del Reina Sofia, critics linked him to it. italian avant-garde and to german neo-expressionism, him too surrealismGalician manner and Romanesque sculpture in its polychrome version. Also, Henry Moore or . effects of Constantine Brancusi, But he says that he is impressed by all the statues that have preceded him and if insisted on mentioning a name he can put on his stele, he only accepts to mention it. Bruce Nauman for his ability to invent new forms outside of all traditionalism, Antonio Muoz Molina, a keen connoisseur of the work of the Galician artist, wrote that Leiro is part stubborn craftsman and part pop prankster, a comic somewhere between avant-garde and pighead.

At the beginning of the year, Lero received news that he had been elected a member of Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, something that surprised those who knew him and, of course, the artist himself. You have two years to prepare the speech. It remains to be seen whether his innate indifference allows him to enter a club like the Academy.

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