Wolfe von Lenkiewicz - Elective Affinities
8 October - 6 November 2015
Galerie Michael Haas is presenting a selection of work by the painter Wolfe von Lenkiewicz including his latest series Delirious Picasso.
The British artist Wolfe von Lenkiewicz (*1966) is known for his artistic reconfigurations of well-known iconic images selected from the history of art, from Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. Carefully examining the linearity of historical perspective embedded within our visual culture, he has been described as both ‘an unbound geneticist turned artist’ and ‘a contemporary iconoclast’ whose art practice occupies a space outside of history to become a fulcrum between different ages. Deploying a hybrid aesthetic that challenges notions of authorship, Lenkiewicz employs a high level of craftsmanship combined with the possibilities of twenty-first century image manipulation. His paintings attempt to overturn the tendency to categorise or insert artworks into particular ‘-isms’ in order to allow us to appreciate the organic development of art over the centuries and the way in which various styles and perspectives overlap and intertwine through time.
Essentially conceptual in his approach, Lenkiewicz explores the ‘elective affinity’ between individual artists and artworks. A term taken from Goethe’s third novel Die Wahlverwandtschaften, which describes the human passions regulated by the laws of chemical attraction, the artist uncovers the hidden potential that different artworks hold for each other by revealing the embedded magnetism at the heart of each image. Marc Chagall’s iconic Over The Town from 1918 finds itself fused with the work of Diego Rivera and Grandma Moses in a new incarnation entitled The Winter Lovers just as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa becomes combined with other iconic paintings by the Italian Master to create an entirely new variant. Jacque-Louis David’s The Rape of the Sabine Women (1799) is transformed into a giant, to scale, drawing with added elements taken from David’s The Death of Marat (1793) and the work of Raphael while key paintings by Géricault combine with both themselves and the work of George Stubbs.
Central to the current exhibition is Lenkiewicz’s new series of Picasso inspired works recently shown in New York at The Academy Mansions as part of his Delirious Picasso show. Juxtaposing Picasso’s oeuvre with ukiyo-e, a Japanese genre of woodblock prints and paintings, the artist combines flat perspective with sumptuous colour and use of pattern. These grand, reconfigured artworks combine Picasso motifs with the imagery of the Japanese Master Kikugawa Eizan to form an entirely new visual language. This provocative iconoclastic act between two seemingly disparate aesthetics demonstrate the reconcilable nature of Eastern and Western art practices and pursues Lenkiewicz’s interest in the legacy of Picasso’s work as witnessed in his inclusion in the blockbuster show Picasso & Contemporary Art which opened at the Deichtorhallen earlier this year and the Wexner Center for the Arts’ After Picasso show, which opened in Ohio last month.
Elective Affinities is accompanied by a new monograph on the work of Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, with foreword by Edward Lucie-Smith and essay by Richard Dyer. Published by Anomie Publishing.
Wolfe von Lenkiewicz is a British artist of German and Polish descent. He studied Philosophy at York University, graduating in 1990, and is the son of the painter Robert Lenkiewicz and great grandson of Baron von Schlossberg, court painter to King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the Swan King. Lenkiewicz lives and works in London.