R.O. Lenkiewicz - Exhibition

December 1987
New Street Gallery, 37 New Street, Plymouth

A showing of 31 works, principally aesthetic notes related to Lenkiewicz's physiologically-based view of aesthetic attractions for other people, or ideologies or theological persuasions.

The exhibition notes state:

Presented here are a few notes from the painter's collection of several thousand pieces. These are to be understood as illustrations of an aesthetic theory about human relationships. They have no direct link to his large scale projects and other paintings; or to any theses about 'art'.

Over the last 25 years Lenkiewicz has studied his own relationships in ruthless detail. A large book (sometimes involving the help of the partner) is begun as the relationship commences, and the book is maintained throughout the duration of the relationship. Several hundred of these books (richly illustrated) testify to the general observation that the assumption of concern and regard for our partners has little to do with their welfare. Obsessional and addictive attitudes are cross-referential in our lives; art, men, women, children, ideologies, all are subject to purely aesthetic and physiological responses. The belief that we are concerned for the welfare of another person – independently of our own needs – is of a pathological character.

The alcoholic, the heroin addict, the artist, the lover, the business man, the theologically and the politically committed, all show the same addictive pathways. In responding preferentially in our lives (companions, environments, beliefs), we are rendering ourselves victim to physiological addictions of an entirely aesthetic nature. The failure to recognise with an “unsentimental humanity” our isolation in the scheme of things, brings about the lurid, brutal and sometimes cruel assumption that our “attraction” to things, people and ideas might mean that we “love” them. For “love” to make sense we would have to be non-selective and aesthetically dead; in the light of our as yet limited knowledge of human physiology, this would be an irrational expectation. We are profoundly insensitive to our own aesthetic vulnerability, and studying this procedure can be salutary and humanising. (Lenkiewicz, 1987)



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