Leo Théron is descended from a family of French Huguenots
who settled in South Africa in 1688. The family farm is
well-known for its wine and is called after the town of
Montpellier in France. Leo studied art at Rhodes University
in South Africa and then at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
Soon after his return to South Africa he was asked to design
mosaics and leaded glass windows for new churches. In 1964 he
returned to France to make a special study of the technique called
"dalles de verre sous beton", a method developed in France after
the second world war. There he studied the work of Gabriel Loire
in Chartres, which had a profound influence on his own personal
approach to this medium. He established his own studio in Pretoria,
South Africa where he worked for 35 years, creating windows for
137 churches, many educational institutions and civic centres
as well as private houses. In 1978 he was awarded the medal
of honour by the South African Academy for Arts and Science.
The major achievement of the dalles de verre technique is the creation of window walls or walls of light. These can occupy one whole wall in a church building from floor to ceiling, creating an atmosphere which is intensely spiritual. The magic of coloured glass can be well expressed in the artist’s own words: It is the prism through which we see into eternity.
In this first retrospective exhibition the emphasis falls on liturgical art, both figurative and abstract. Included are portraits in glass expressing the character and personality of saints and historical figures. Prints are exhibited of windows in southern Africa, as well as an important work - a window of Saint Francis - in a Franciscan monastery church near Ponticelli in Italy. Also exhibited are aquarelles of Sant Fruitós de Bages, painted during his last visit in 1996, and some innovative paintings inspired by his creative work in glass.