Robert Lenkiewicz is one of my favourite painters. He died in 2002, age 60, of complications arising from heart problems. I was reminded again of Robert by a letter from his friend Henryk Ptasiewicz. I commend this letter to you. Henryk’s letter is in the responses to the past letter, Just for today.
Born in north London, the son of refugees who ran a Jewish hotel, Lenkiewicz went to St Martin’s College of Art and Design at the age of 16 and later the Royal Academy. However, he was largely self-taught.
Lenkiewicz worked in “projects.” He took subjects that interested him and explored the possibilities until they exhausted or bored him. These included concerns like Jealousy, Suicide, Self, Love and Death. They were often depicted in an allegorical style.
Inspired by Albert Schweitzer, Lenkiewicz opened his Hampstead studios to the dispossessed. Vagrants, criminals and alcoholics appear in his paintings. In 1964, after complaints from neighbours, he was urged by the police to move. He settled in Plymouth, Devon, where he soon took over warehouses to accommodate vagrants. One space became an exhibition project in 1973 — paintings of vagrants together with a collection of notes written by the sitters themselves. Lenkiewicz used this method of presenting information throughout his career.
In hundreds of portraits Lenkiewicz captured what he saw as the blandness and cynicism of his sitters. Paintings of teachers and bureaucrats were, like the artist’s life, loaded with irony. He viewed the educational system as the “mass spiritual slaughter of the young,” which prepared them for a life of exploitation.
Lenkiewicz was a gentle giant. A compassionate mind, his life could also be said to be a celebration of love and the adoration of femininity. In “The Painter with Women,” “Observations on the Theme of the Double,” and “The Falling in Love Experience,” he rallied against the idea of treating others, and things, as property. For Lenkiewicz, property was “the straight road to fascism, brutishness and violence.”
PS: “The truth is that I am very, very keen on the opinion of the man in the street.” (Robert Lenkiewicz)
Esoterica: Quality work shines and glows beyond persona and popular opinion. “His free-thinking ways scandalized authority. He is survived by one son and one daughter from his three marriages, and thirteen other children.” (Mark Penwill, Obituary, The Guardian)
This letter was originally published as “The art of Robert Lenkiewicz” on August 22, 2003.
“The function of the artist in a disturbed society is to give awareness of the universe, to ask the right questions, and to elevate the mind.” (Marina Abramovic)
Capture on canvas the vibrant autumn reds, mauves, greens and golds of the Arctic tundra. Distractions: Caribou migrating south from their summer feeding grounds to their winter shelter; magical nightly displays of northern lights; world-class fishing for Arctic char or grayling; hiking or boat trips to see ancient Inuit sites; or, after an excellent dinner, hear of the exploits of the owners during their adventures to the North & South Poles. An experience like no other!
Not a workshop but rather a group paint out under the guidance of professional oil painter and textile designer Mette Baker (http://mettebaker.com/). Mette has been painting at Arctic Haven, a wilderness lodge in the southwest corner of Nunavut, for the past two years. Her husband, former Canadian Ambassador and consultant Brian Baker, has been leading groups to Greenland and Northern Canada for many years.
For more details about Arctic Haven, see website: https://www.arctichaven.ca/
For information about the trip generally, contact Brian firstname.lastname@example.org
My aim as a painter is to bring to life a slice of the world as I experience it. Light, color and form are my vocabulary.