Robert Lenkiewicz was born in London in 1941. His parents were Jewish refugees from Germany and Poland. They set up a sequence of accommodations for the elderly which led to the formulation of The Hotel Shem-tov, with some sixty occupants. Many of these guests had suffered great hardships, some were a little unhinged and others were of a life-experienced and philosophical persuasion.
Lenkiewicz was brought up in this environment with his two brothers. He was greatly stimulated by the circumstances he found himself in. Room No.3 with the green lino became his mini-universe. From the dissection of pigeons, his discovery of Leonardo, the housemaids, the Rabbis; all these ingredients fed into an unusually intense sense of humanity for any young person. His propensity for working on a large scale began there (one painting alone was three hundred and sixty feet long).
Though he found his mother a difficult person there was no doubt that she encouraged him in his creative activities. He went to St. Martin's School of Art and then to The Royal Academy Schools.
He spent some years teaching in London attracting miscellaneous visitors to his studios. Many of these people found great difficulty in relating to the society they lived in; this resulted in the first of a series of different premises converted for the occupancy of vagrant and disturbed people. This created difficulties in an area like Hampstead, and he was asked to leave by the police.
He taught in Cornwall and then moved to Plymouth where he continued a similar lifestyle. After some years he had established nine separate buildings throughout the City. These buildings were known as 'The Cowboy's Holiday Inn 1, 2, 3. .......
Throughout this period he had been working intensively on the first of a long series of projects which he termed 'The Relationships Series'. VAGRANCY was the first of these projects - nineteen more have followed.
Over the years he has put together a large and specialist Library with many rooms. Each one contains books on a specific theme, there are rooms on Metaphysics, Philosophy, Death, Suicide and Euthanasia, Theology, Literature and Poetry and two further rooms of Art history and Art biography. The Library and the projects have in common his consistent research into the causes of obsessive and fanatical behaviour. He suggests in many notes that our understanding of the causes of fascism may be helped by enquiring into human behaviour in relation to falling in love, theological persuasions and belief systems. The following notes are an attempt to sketch in a broad scaffold for the visitor to this Exhibition.
It has been very difficult to make a selection from the work of a painter with so large an output. A fraction of it is represented here. Many quite important pieces cannot be shown in this Exhibition due to their size, and in some cases, their subject matter. This collection has been carefully selected by the painter to represent the flow from early to recent work. He holds the view that his paintings are a kind of sociological enquiry by visual means. He is aware of how anachronistic both the form and content of this work is in relation to Post-modernist art theory - and hopes he is forgiven.