A true child of Montmartre, son of a circus musician and an embroiderer, Eugène Paul – known as Gen Paul (1895-1975) – was immersed from his earliest childhood in the artistic bohemian milieu of this district of Paris and admired the masters: Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Dongen, …
Wounded and amputated of his right leg during the First World War, Gen Paul could no longer practice his trade as an upholsterer and therefore decided to use his drawing talents and his sense of observation to launch himself professionally into painting, to which great artists of Montmartre such as Juan Gris, Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain or Maurice Utrillo were to introduce him.
If his early works reflect these many influences, he develops during the period from 1925 to 1929, which is described as his “Great Period”, a strong expressionist style, on the fringe of his friends of the Bateau-lavoir.
The paintings of this period are characterized by movement, found both in the gaiety of the subjects he depicts – musicians in action, bustling crowds in Montmartre, horse races – and in his brushstrokes of rapid brushstrokes, dynamic angles and distorted silhouettes. His work expresses his own style with influences as varied as those of Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh, Cézanne, and before them Goya, Velasquez, or El Greco.
Gen Paul exhibited for the first time at the Salon d’automne and the Salon des Indépendants in Paris in 1920. In 1928, his works were exhibited with those of Picasso, Rouault and Soutine and the following year he signed a contract with the great Parisian dealer Bernheim, but this was cancelled after the financial crash of 1929.
Until September 1930, the artist traveled and worked non-stop, seized by a kind of frenzy. But on his return to Paris, serious health problems linked to his alcoholism forced him to slow down. The writer Louis-Ferdinand Céline was a great help in his recovery. Although he did not share his ideas, Gen Paul considered him a close friend for many years.
After the Second World War, Gen Paul returned to the style and subject matter of his early years, without really regaining the artistic vitality of the 1920s. However, being considered an important figure in Paris painting, he enjoyed some success during his lifetime.
The Galerie de la Béraudière is pleased to introduce you to this talented artist, who was one of the only French expressionists, in an exhibition that will focus on his “Great Period” from 1925 to 1929.