Robert Lenkiewicz – The painter with Susan Wildman. St Anthony theme. Painter with woman. Project 18

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Robert Lenkiewicz, British (1941-2002)
The painter with Susan Wildman. St Anthony theme. Painter with woman. Project 18

Medium: Oil on panel
Unframed size: 10.25 x 8.25 inches
Framed size: 15.25 x 13.25 inches
Signature: Signed (Lower Right)

Private collection, United Kingdom

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Robert Oscar Lenkiewicz was born on the 31st of December 1941 and passed away on the 5th of August 2002. Lenkiewicz was one of South West England’s most celebrated artists within the modern British movement.

Robert Lenkiewicz was born in London in 1941. He was the son of refugees who ran a Jewish hotel in Fordwych Road. His mother was a German baroness and his father a Polish horse breeder who both fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and arrived in London as penniless refugees.

He attended Sir Christopher Wren junior technical school of art architecture and building from 1955 to 1958 graduating in art with distinction. Lenkiewicz was accepted at Saint Martin’s School of Art at 16 and later attended the Royal Academy.

Later in life, while he lived near Cornwall, Lenkiewicz worked as a teacher before being offered studio space on the Barbican in Plymouth by local artist and businessman John Nash. With this opportunity the artist’s home and studios once more became a magnet for vagrants and street alcoholics, who sat for his paintings.

After his first exhibition with an established art dealer in the 1990s, Lenkiewicz’s work began to grow commercial success and some recognition by art establishments. He received a major retrospective in 1997 at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, attended by 42,000 visitors. In his obituary of Lenkiewicz, art critic David Lee observed: “Robert’s greatest gift was to show us that an artist could be genuinely concerned about social and domestic issues and attempt the difficult task of expressing this conscience through the deeply unfashionable medium of figurative painting. In that sense, he was one of few serious painters of contemporary history.” Lenkiewicz, aged 60, died of a heart attack in 2002.

The Lenkiewicz Foundation was established in 1997. They received the remaining collection of works after Lenkiewicz passing. The artist’s voluminous diaries, illustrated notebooks and relationship journals are in the Foundation’s collection, which was shown at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery in 2009. The Foundation has curated a number of posthumous exhibitions such as Self-Portraits 1956-2002 at the Ben Uri Gallery.

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