Leon Francois Dumont is an emerging self-taught artist who has picked up oil paints for the first time in 2019 after a creative hiatus. Inspired by baroque 16th/17th century influences, his portraiture plays with light and shadow, often starting with the basis of a colourful but limited palette and continuing with instinctive, expressive mark-making. Since 2021 Leon has branched out into using Gouache paints in a graphic style inspired by the posters of the golden age of steam and air travel.
*François Dumont being the name of my French grandfather, one of only 1000 recipients of the Order of the Liberation medal for his role in three top-level bombing missions in WW2, and ultimate life-threatening escape on foot through occupied France.
I’m an oil painter with a focus on portraiture and narrative figurative work, with the occasional diversion into mid-century poster-style landscapes.
I’ve always been struck by the power and influence of portraiture throughout history and particularly the large scale storytelling master works of baroque artists such as Van Dyke, Velasquez and Artemisia Gentileschi that I grew up on at the National Gallery. I’ve also been fascinated by the persistence of the portraitist’s relevance after the invention and proliferation of photography. For example I take inspiration from war artists’ hastily captured likenesses of pilots in the Great War, and the efficiency of mark making of turn of the century greats like John Singer Sargent and Anders Zorn. I grew up also influenced by the dramatic and graphic style of the last of the hand painted movie posters of artists such as Drew Struzan, for films like Back to the Future and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Make Space has allowed me to improve my practice in comfort with a level of flexibility that enables my own space and way of working. It has also given me an opportunity to interact with the public that takes an interest in the work we make on sight. I love the amazing support of Spark:York’s events and marketing teams, and immediate access to York’s finest street food is also a plus.
Ultimately my art is an expression of how I see the world and I hope to find as many people as possible who resonate with the images I produce and the themes I explore. I intend to further expand these connections through collaborators who admire the medium’s long history and who recognise the cross-generational value of the art form.