Exhibitions by Year

The Coming of Age
Sep 27-29 2019
St Saviours Hall, Plymouth

A Dance to the Music of Time

“Dying while young is a boon in old age.” Yiddish proverb.

When, in 1979, artist Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) set out to paint portraits of as many 100 year old Plymothians as he could find, the most recent census told him that Britain’s population of 100 year olds had grown to nearly 2,500, a ten-fold increase since the coronation of the Queen in 1952. But given Plymouth’s share of the UK population, he knew was only likely to find 9 or 10 such sitters locally. In the end, of the fifty portraits he painted, just three were of centenarians. He contacted most of the elderly subjects of the paintings via Elspeth Sitters House, at that time a day centre for Age Concern (now ageUK), which was a two minute walk from his Barbican studio. In 1982, Lenkiewicz created a mural at Elspeth Sitters House. Over 10 metres wide, it was painted in a vibrant style with vivid colours, based on Poussin’s famous painting ‘A Dance to the Music... Read more

28 April – 23 June 2018
Green Hill Arts, Moretonhampstead

With the first official biography of painter Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) in preparation, Green Hill Arts presents an exhibition of works marking the most significant waypoints, both painterly and biographical, in Lenkiewicz’s career. Curated by The Lenkiewicz Foundation, each work has been chosen to show the development of Lenkiewicz’s style and subject matter through the years, but also to place him at key moments in the remarkably colourful life. 

Showing diary notes, preparatory sketches, and finished canvasses, this show intends to provide a thought-provoking insight into the ideas and inspiration behind his work and reveal a side of the artist’s creativity that is seldom seen. The works are drawn chiefly from the collection of The Lenkiewicz Foundation, together with works on loan to the exhibition.

Places are limited, so please book with Green Hill Arts (Attendance free): http://www.greenhillarts.co.uk/... Read more

The Mary Notebook & selections from Project 14 - The Painter with Mary: A Study in Obsessional Behaviour
Saturday 2nd December 6:00pm

EXHIBITION Closed 4 Feb 2018

The Reuben Lenkiewicz Art Gallery presents in association with The Lenkiewicz Foundation:

The Mary Notebook & selections from Project 14,The Painter with Mary: A Study in Obsessional Behaviour

Saturday 2nd December 6:00pm

The Reuben Lenkiewicz Art Gallery

1A Northumberland Place, Teignmouth, TQ14 8DD


We will be privileged to have on display a selection of original works and facsimiles from The Painter with Mary Project on loan from The Lenkiewicz Foundation. There will be also a rare and final opportunity to purchase a small number of beautifully presented limited-edition lithographic prints from The Painter with Mary Project, which are signed by Robert Lenkiewicz and are exclusive to the Reuben Lenkiewicz Gallery. There will also be a number of the few remaining copies of the limited... Read more

The Diogenes Show
23 Sep - 23 October 2016
New Street Gallery, 38 New St, Barbican, Plymouth PL1 2NA

The Lenkiewicz Foundation, with the aid of Dr Antony Knights at Plymouth University, has used laser technology to scan the human remains of the vagrant Edwin Mackenzie (1912-1984). Lenkiewicz named him Diogenes after the Greek philosopher who lived in a barrel after finding the tramp dwelling in a concrete pipe in a rubbish tip. Diogenes was soon a permanent fixture at Lenkiewicz’s studio; ‘He was very popular,’ Lenkiewicz said, ‘but there were times when I wasn’t sure whether people were coming in to see Diogenes or coming in to see the exhibition. They were certainly very surprised by him ... this scrawny, miniature Father Christmas.’

The Diogenes Show marks the 40th anniversary of their collaboration in The Masterpiece Museum & The Diogenes Con Show, Lenkiewicz’ ironic look at art and commerce. For practical reasons the expertly embalmed remains of Diogenes cannot make a personal appearance as the ultimate memento mori (‘remember, you will... Read more

Robert Lenkiewicz (1941–2002): Self-Portraits
2 April – 3 May 2016
Ocean Studios, Royal William Yard, Plymouth

Art lovers seeking the real Robert Lenkiewicz (1941–2002) will have no fewer than 30 different versions of the artist to choose from at Ocean Studios in Plymouth’s Royal William Yard from 2 April to 3 May. The exhibition Self-Portraits is a long-overdue reprise of the show which appeared at London's Ben Uri Gallery in 2008. The paintings range from journeyman works of Lenkiewicz's teenage years to the time-worn self-portraits of his last decade.
     The centrepiece of the exhibition is an enormous diptych, which stands over three meters tall, titled The Deposition - The Burial of Education (detail above). The painting was a dominant presence in Lenkiewicz's Barbican studio for many years after its creation in 1986 as part of the Project Observations on Local Education. It features one of Lenkiewicz's most striking self-portraits, wrapped ironically in a Union Jack flag as he observes the mourning for a dead child; his metaphor for liberal education... Read more

'Love's Body': Allegory + metaphor in the ‘private language’ works on paper
20 Nov 2015 to 6 Jan 2016
New Street Gallery, 38 New Street, Plymouth PL12NA

The Lenkiewicz Foundation are presenting an exhibition at New Street Gallery of works on paper from Lenkiewicz’s 1970’s relationship Projects. The exhibition coincides with the publication for the first time of the related Project notebooks on Love and Romance, Love and Mediocrity, and Orgasm on our website.

These original works on paper showcase Lenkiewicz’s innovative and startling ‘private language’ of what he termed ‘aesthetic notes’ – using text and colour metaphors to explore human physiology in a state of crisis. A new essay will explore the influence on the painter’s ideas of the book Love’s Body, written by Norman O. Brown in 1966.

The exhibition will be open between 20 Nov 2015 and 6 Jan 2016 on Thurs–Sun ONLY.
Holiday closing times: Mon 23 Dec – Wed 2 Jan.

FAMILY MATTERS: a Private Collection
8 February – 23 March 2014
Hannahs at Seale Hayne, Howton Rd, Newton Abbot, Devon


Works by R.O. Lenkiewicz (1941-2002)
8 February - 23 March 2014

A FREE exhibition of work by Robert Lenkiewicz at Hannahs at Seale Hayne, Howton Road, Newton Abbot, Devon. Curated by Annie Hill-Smith

Open 7 days per week, 10am - 6pm

T: 01626 325800 | E: enquiries@discoverhannahs.org

Hannahs at Seale Hayne, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 6NQ


The paintings you see in this exhibition come from private collections of Robert Lenkiewicz’s work that have evolved over many years. They are related to each other by virtue of the fact that they are of members of the Lenkiewicz family or are of things that are associated with family. Some have never been seen in public before. They are from a range of Lenkiewicz’s projects or are non-project pieces. They are ‘personal’. They have been collected by members of the Lenkiewicz extended family and... Read more

Menschliches, Allzumenschliches (Human, All Too Human)
14 September – 13 October 2013
Auf AEG, Nürnberg – WERKSCHAU / Halle 15

This exhibition was first shown at the Spinnerei, Leipzig between 23 June – 21 July 2013.

Exhibitions Officer John-Paul Somerville introduces the current exhibition in Nuremberg. Film by Jeremy Elman.

The first exhibition in Germany of paintings by British artist Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002), organised by The Lenkiewicz Foundation, will move to Nuremberg’s Auf AEG on 14 September (until 13 October) from its acclaimed showing at The Spinnerei, Leipzig in June and July. The ten-year anniversary of the artist’s death was marked last year in the South West of England with a large-scale exhibition entitled Human, All Too Human and this show, in greatly expanded form, is travelling under its German title – Menschliches,... Read more

Menschliches, Allzumenschliches (Human, All Too Human)
23 June – 21 July 2013
Werkschau Halle 12, Spinnerei, Leipzig

First solo show by British painter Robert Lenkiewicz (1941–2002) in Germany / Leipzig

The first exhibition in Germany of paintings by British artist Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) will take place this year. The Lenkiewicz Foundation has organized the exhibition, to be held at The Spinnerei, Leipzig between 23 June and 21 July. The ten-year anniversary of the artist’s death was marked last year in the South West of England with a large-scale exhibition entitled Human, All Too Human and this show, in greatly expanded form, will travel to Leipzig under its German title – Menschliches, Allzumenschliches.

This landmark show will be the largest exhibition of the artist’s work to date, recognizing a number of cultural and biographical connections between Lenkiewicz and Leipzig. His Polish-born Jewish father was a horse trader in Saxony before escaping just prior to World War II. According to family tradition Lenkiewicz’s great grandfather... Read more

Human, All Too Human
3 – 28 June 2012
Royal William Yard, Plymouth


The Royal William Yard in Plymouth will be hosting a major exhibition of works by Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) between 3 – 28 June. The show will mark the ten-year anniversary of his death, and will explore the artist’s life-long interest in the ideas of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, whose book ‘Human, All Too Human’ gives the exhibition its title.

In recent years, growing recognition from a national audience, with increasing international interest in Europe and America, has established Lenkiewicz as a serious and increasingly relevant 20th century British painter.  Sponsored by The Somerville Gallery, the exhibition will take advantage of two vacant units in the Mills Bakery building at Plymouth’s historic Royal William Yard, which is pioneering the Stonehouse and Millbay regeneration project with cultural events, and where visitors will also find a selection of thriving... Read more

Death and The Maiden
15 July — 2 Oct 2011
Torre Abbey, Torquay

An exhibition of original works and Project notebook facsimiles at Torquay's oldest building, which underwent a £6.5 million restoration as a heritage centre in 2005.

Death and The Maiden focused on works from the painter’s 1974 ‘Project’ exploring the traditional ‘Death and The Maiden’ theme. This theme counterpoints death and decay with the potential for new life usually represented by the nubile female figure. Numerous paintings and drawings were shown which had not been exhibited in the years since Lenkiewicz’s death.

Death and The Maiden was first exhibited in 1974 at Lenkiewicz’s new Clifton Street studio, The Fool. Much of the exhibition comprised framed works on paper which were later bound, together with the painter’s original research notes, into a large folio. The folio contains more than 70 watercolours and drawings and modern facsimile techniques now make it possible to exhibit the contents of the Project notebook much as they... Read more

'Still Lives' – Robert Lenkiewicz
17 April — 31 May 2011
Royal West of England Academy, Bristol

"This will be the most comprehensive exhibition of Robert Lenkiewicz's work since his premature death at the age of 60 in 2002. Lenkiewicz famously chose the outsider as the subject for his art: the vagrants and street alcoholics who dossed at his studios, families with mentally handicapped children, the elderly, the dying – human beings isolated from one another by their circumstances and from themselves by their preoccupations.

'You're born alone and you die alone,' he said and the problem was to deal with the isolation of simply being alive. Lenkiewicz found one solution – a richly creative life conducted with panache – and left behind a legacy which will appeal to anyone with an interest in the conundrum of existence. In his obituary of Lenkiewicz, art critic David Lee remarked that 'Lenkiewicz was one of few serious painters of contemporary history.'"

Lenkiewicz: The Legacy – Works from The Lenkiewicz Foundation Collection
8 April – 11 July 2009
Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery

Museum exhibition to showcase the legacy of Lenkiewicz
A new exhibition of works by Robert Lenkiewicz, which opens at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery on Wednesday 8 April, will present the first ever showing of the legacy of artistic works that the artist bequeathed to the Lenkiewicz Foundation upon his death in 2002.

‘Lenkiewicz: The Legacy’ will offer a first glimpse of the treasures now held within The Lenkiewicz Foundation’s collection, and will remain on display until the end of Saturday 11 July. The show is set to provide a thought-provoking insight into the ideas and inspiration behind his work and show a side of his creativity that is seldom seen.

“The name of Robert Lenkiewicz is synonymous with large easel paintings and huge public murals, yet from the early 1970s he also produced an extraordinary archive of works on paper, otherwise known as ‘aesthetic notes’, which have rarely/never been on public display,” explains Francis... Read more

Robert Lenkiewicz: Self-Portraits 1956-2002
26 September - 14 December 2008
Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art

The first major London exhibition of works by Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) at Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art, featuring a selection from the artist's finest self-portrature throughout his career.

For an artist first inspired to paint in boyhood after seeing Charles Laughton portray Rembrandt in Alexander Korda's classic film, it was perhaps inevitable that Robert Lenkiewicz would turn frequently to the subject of self-portraiture.

The self-portraits collected in this show span the artist's whole career. From his first paintings as an earnest fifteen-year-old boy, working in Room No. 3 of the Hotel Shemtov, the Jewish hotel run by his parents in Cricklewood in the post-war years, to the haunting last self-portrait in hospital shortly before his death in Plymouth aged sixty, these images make for an encyclopaedia of the artist's changing styles and philosophical interests down the years.

Lenkiewicz famously chose the outsider as the subject for... Read more

At The Edge: Works by R.O. Lenkiewicz (1941 - 2002)
29 September - 18 November 2007
Hartlepool Art Gallery (and Novas Gallery, London)


The ideas that underline this exhibition … at the edge … stretch back to the late 1960's and to the themed exhibitions that Robert Lenkiewicz began to organise in Plymouth in 1973.

We are seeking to show work that we hope will demonstrate Lenkiewicz's skill and humanity but will also - when seen together - create within you an aesthetic response that will have staying power. This is a themed show, in the Lenkiewicz ‘mold’ but is not of course an original Lenkiewicz theme. We hope this exhibition will stretch the imagination of those attend in a way that Lenkiewicz himself would have hoped to do.

This is a new project; we can’t reconstruct one of the original collections (which he called projects) so we are generating the first post-Lenkiewicz project showing work from several of the original projects but all touching on one of his 'meta-themes', that of social enquiry. We think that this is a legitimate ‘stretch’ from his... Read more

True to Life
3 February - 27 March 2007
Coventry City Art Gallery

Featuring works by Freud, Auerbach, Bomberg, Shoa, Haughton,and a number of 'New British Realists'.

'True To Life' celebrates the evolving tradition of figurative painting with past and contemporary classics. If Zola's words were not enough, I was left in no doubt on entering this exhibition that I was in for a sensory visual feast. Major works by Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, Robert Lenkiewicz, Nahem Shoa and Desmond Haughton, together with the New British Realists stop you in your tracks. "In the present critical climate a show like this feels revolutionary." (Myrna Shoa, 2007).

Myrna Shoa's YouTube video is available here.

Uncompromising Study
24 June - 6 August 2006
Hartlepool Art Gallery

Work by some of the most exciting figurative painters in Britain will be showcased in an important new exhibition at Hartlepool Art Gallery.

'Uncompromising Study', which runs at the gallery from Saturday 24 June to Sunday 6 August, features pieces by Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach, Robert Lenkiewicz, and Nahem Shoa.

It also includes the work of the New British Realists - Desmond Haughton, Geoff Crannage, Gbenga Ilumoka, Caroline Poole, Christopher Potter and Myrna Shoa - six contemporary artists who come from the same tradition.

Freud's painting Head of a Woman, which was recently shown in the Musei Civica Veneziani as part of this year's Venice Biennale, and Auerbach's painting Building Site Oxford Street and its accompanying study drawing - which has not been shown for 30 years - are among the pieces which will be on display in the Hartlepool exhibition.

Also featured will be the Lenkiewicz masterpiece The Painter with Mary in... Read more

Blind Tobit: images of a blind man walking
10 June - 1 July 2000
New Street Gallery
R.O. Lenkiewicz - A Retrospective
11 April - 6 June 1998
Wolverhampton Art Gallery

This retrospective exhibition was a reduced (just over 70 as opposed to nearly 100 works) of the Retrospective at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery the preceding year. However, the two exhibitions had only fifty works in common with more than 20 additions to the later showing, which greatly expanded the section of work dating from the 1950s.

In his review of the show, Terry Grimley of The Birmingham Post decries the lack of dates in the picture captions:

"Lenkiewicz prefers to exhibit his work in a series of themed "projects" rather than chronologically, which frustrates any attempt to trace artistic development – particularly as he is prone to switching styles according to the subject at hand."

Terry Grimley's article is here: Plymouth maverick still has the power to astound; Terry Grimley previews a... Read more

9 August - 22 October 1997
Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery

From the Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery July - October 1997 events programme:

"In 1996 Plymouth became the first public gallery in the UK to place a painting on permanent display. Now the first ever overview of the artist's work premieres in Plymouth before touring to other venues in 1998.

In recent years Lenkiewicz's painting has become more widely appreciated, with collectors in Europe, Australia and North America buying his work. In 1994 an exhibition at Birmingham's International Convention Centre attracted 35,000 visitors in just one week!

This major retrospective, occupying the first floor galleries, is one of the largest exhibitions to be presented in the region this year. Including paintings from Robert's teenage years to his current project on Addictive Behaviour, the show will give audiences a rare opportunity to view a comprehensive collection of the artist's work."

Vagrancy II
29 January - 30 April 1996
The Barbican Museum and Library Annexe, 19 Citadel Ope, The Barbican, Plymouth

This exhibition, at the artist's gallery known as The Annexe in Citadel Ope, presented restored and reworked canvasses from the Vagrancy Project, together with new paintings of the last surviving vagrant, Les 'Cider' Ryder. The painting Plymouth Mourning Over Its Unfortunates (1974) and Diogenes at Night in Studio Window (1977) also featured.

'Folly of Wise Men' Studies
2 September - 2 October 1990
New Street Gallery, 37/8 New Street, Plymouth

The third and final exhibition of studies from Project 18 at the New Street Gallery being:

Some recent studies for section 18 of the Relationship series - 400 paintings to be exhibited if it is decided whether his present library/studios are to remain library/studios or to join the adjacent monastery and other buildings of significance on the Barbican in providing thoughtless and anti-social brewery services. 

The notes reflect the artist's concern that the landlord of the studios in which he now worked was seeking to sell the building. In Lenkiewicz's view, the most likely outcome of a sale would be the conversion of the space into licensed premises of one sort or another.

Lenkiewicz's notes continue:  

Ideas are substitutes for griefs
Marcel Proust

In itself, every idea is neutral, but we are idolaters by instinct and convert the objects of our dreams and addictions... Read more

The Painter With Women: Observations on the Theme of the Double
January 1990
New Street Gallery, 37 New Street, Plymouth

The second showing of "sketches and reflections" for Project 18 to be shown at the New Street Gallery.

The exhibition notes state:


“It hath been thought a vast commendation of a painter to say his figures seem to breathe; but surely it is a much greater and nobler applause that they appear to think.”

Joseph Andrews,

Preface, London 1742.


These studies are introductory enquiries concerning three aspects of perception, 1. the relationship between one person and another, 2. philosophical considerations inspired by the mirror; 3. the “folly of wise men”.

These studies are sketches for project eighteen of the Relationship Series. The large exhibition planned for the summer is on the theme: THE PAINTER WITH WOMEN:- Observations on the theme of the Double. (This eighteenth project in the summer will probably be... Read more

R.O. Lenkiewicz (The Painter with Women 1988)
17 December 1988 - 28 January 1989
New Street Gallery, 37 New Street, Plymouth

An exhibition of 40 works held at the New Street Gallery when it was located at 37 New Street. The exhibition notes explain the content and purpose of the show:

This little collection is a sketch – a rough draft – of the large project to be displayed at the painter's studio in the summer of 1989. The project on 'Education' is now closed. The July presentation will be the eighteenth exhibition in the Relationship Series – and will be accompanied by an interesting book on the theme: THE PAINTER WITH WOMAN: some observations on the theme of the Double.


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... Read more

Retrospective - Paintings: R.O. Lenkiewicz
8 - 28 September 1980
Blackfriars Gallery, 58 Southside Street, Barbican, Plymouth


"This collection is a small selection of works from a large number of paintings on a series of projects. The series con­sist of 16 sections on relationships. All the themes are inter-related. They involve an aesthetic theory of a subjective nature which has pre-occupied the painter for some years. He has written a large number of notes on this aspect. Regrettably they cannot be exhibited here."


The exhibition ran concurrently with the exhibitions on Old Age and Gossip on The Barbican at the painter's studio at 25 The Parade. 60 pictures were shown, together with some works on paper.


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