NewsProTeam | Mar 4, 2021 | 0
How I Grew to become An Artwork Smuggler
Gerard Dureux was a paranoid, reclusive painter and sculptor whose assortment has been smuggled to the UK by his son.
The solar is barely seen on the gray skyline and I’m battling fierce wind as I transfer by the streets of the post-industrial wasteland close to the centre of Leeds, UK. The odd practice whistles by on the close by tracks and I can hear a faint police siren within the distance, however in any other case the streets are muted.
What as soon as stood proud as an financial hub of the Industrial Revolution is now decreased to deserted warehouses, dishevelled canals, and a slew of unflattering avenue artwork. Issues have modified spherical right here.
I arrive at the heavy metal door of an enormous, nondescript warehouse sandwiched between an outdated boxing gymnasium and a bus depot. Regardless of the unimaginable location, that is essentially the most thrilling artwork exhibition town has seen in a while.
The venue is Freedom Mills, and I’m right here to fulfill the son of the late twentieth century French artist Gerard Dureux. Throughout his life Gerard produced a panoramic assortment of work, drawings and sculptures. His assortment (properly, what’s left after he controversially burnt an unknown portion of it) primarily options nudes, landscapes, and nonetheless life.
The work, a lot of which depicts and glorifies the feminine human type in a ravishing, erotic, and generally provocative method, seems to be closely influenced by the Italian icon Antoniucci Voltigero and French sculptor Emile-Antoine Bourdelle.
By all accounts, Dureux was a troubled particular person who consistently struggled to be understood. Experiences recommend that he was eternally locked right into a battle with all of the issues he discovered to be undesirable in society — or ‘the system’ as he would put it.
I’d heard rumours in regards to the charming story of how Gerard’s work got here to be featured on this uncommon, clandestine gallery and I used to be right here to separate reality from fiction.
The work sits prominently alongside up to date names — resembling the favored summary colourist Nicolas Dixon (who famously reworked the Pacha brand) and Mikey Brain (the person behind the vividly graphic artwork on EP covers launched by the Scorching Creations file label) — who straddle the UK’s underground artwork and music scenes.
Gerard’s story is an enthralling one riddled with intrigue, shrouded in mystique, and enveloped in uncertainty. Born in Paris in 1940 he was taught his commerce on the distinguished Beaux-Arts and Arts Appliqués colleges within the 60s. “Dureux has hands of gold, but his head simply cannot agree,” certainly one of his lecturers, extremely revered artist Roger Plin, as soon as remarked of him.
After ending his schooling, and struggling to get a grip of ‘the system’ that he so loathed, he determined to maneuver into an remoted a part of the countryside in central France within the mid-70s. However by 1979 his issues started to manifest in abusive behaviour which resulted in his spouse leaving the house with their two kids.
“A large amount of money was withdrawn shortly before his death. A women he knew, who was not a member of his family, ordered his cremation straight away which is totally illegal. It’s really weird.” — Emmanuel Dureux
Gerard, by then struggling severely from alcoholism and changing into more and more unstable and reclusive, barricaded his house and proceeded to hoard his artwork. “The guy was paranoid, he put bars on the doors so nobody could get in,” Gerard’s son Emmanuel recounted as we sat collectively.
“Why? I have no idea; there has never been a robbery within 100 miles of the place. He was a big name to a lot of people but hardly ever sold anything, he was too fucked in the head.
“People would commission him but he would not deliver the job, he would keep it for himself,” he advised me. “If people praised his work he’d say ‘fuck off, that’s not beautiful, now go away from here’.”
“He died in 2014, but I still don’t know the reason, I hadn’t seen him for 35 years,” Emmanuel pronounced with a touch of disappointment detectable in his voice. “According to the French law if an heir cannot be found in six months everything becomes the property of the state.”
“There was a lot of blood and my sister started crying.” — Emmanuel Dureux
When Emmanuel lastly came upon about his father’s passing it was simply weeks earlier than the artwork would develop into the property of France, so he took instant and decisive motion. “Me and my sister took my van, went over to France in the middle of the night and got into the house,” he recalled lighting a skinny hand-rolled cigarette. “It was an absolute mess, there were unfinished pieces everywhere. We filled the van up with as much as we could.
“After that we headed for a local town where we spent the night with some people we knew would look after us. On the way we were travelling down a winding, narrow road and when we turned the corner we were met by a crashed, upside down car with smoke pouring out, there was a lot of blood and my sister started crying.
“A man was in the car with a broken neck and a gash on his head. I put my belt around his head and, despite the fact he was a heavy lad of around 19 stone, I managed to pull him out. I met his son some time later and he thanked me for saving his dad’s life.”
It wasn’t lengthy after this incident that Emmanuel discovered himself on the UK-France border with a van packed stuffed with undeclared, priceless artwork: “The next day, at the border, I was waiting for customs to open the back of the van and say ‘you need to make a declaration for that’. I was expecting it to be blocked by them. But at that stage hopefully the art would have stayed in the UK and the French couldn’t touch it. That was my idea.
“But, fortunately or unfortunately, for once in my life, the customs never searched me or asked for anything. I was ready to say ‘ok, here are the keys to my van, put me in jail for the night’. But it wasn’t to be. Then I was just like ‘shit, I need somewhere to store it all now’.”
There may be additionally the query of who had been in his father’s home earlier than Emmanuel and his sister arrived to seize the artwork. “The first time I went around to the house with my sister we made a video and when I went back three months later some things had appeared that were not there before. Someone had returned things, it was weird. That time I changed the locks.
“I also looked at his bank statements and saw a large amount of money was withdrawn shortly before his death. A women he knew, called [omitted], who was not a member of his family, ordered his cremation straight away which is totally illegal. It’s really weird and it makes me think something is dodgy. The story probably hasn’t even started yet.”