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WOLFE VON LENKIEWICZ THE RAFT OF THE MEDUSA

ALL VISUAL ARTS LONDON


2 Omega Place Kings Cross London N1 9DR United Kingdom T: +44 (0)207 843 0410 E: info@allvisualarts.org W: www.allvisualarts.org Media Enquiries Tani T: M: E:

Burns: 0207 377 5665 07888 731 419 tburnsarts@gmail.com


WOLFE VON LENKIEWICZ THE RAFT OF THE MEDUSA

ALL VISUAL ARTS LONDON 13 September - 20 October 2013


Foreword ‘Re-sequencing history’: nature, science and man depicted through a reconfigured language, staged in convergences of epic scale All Visual Arts is pleased to announce “The Raft of Medusa”, an exhibition by Wolfe von Lenkiewicz running 19 September – 2 November 2013. This new body of work builds on the artist’s previous coalescences of disparate imagery: from contemporary to historic, high art of the Renaissance to icons of popular culture. Among reworkings of iconic images, from Michelangelo, Ingres and Cezanne to Warhol and even Disney, past works most remarkable in demonstrating Lenkiewicz’s practice include But, but I am a Legend (2010), a full-scale revisiting – or, rather, reconfiguration – of Picasso’s Guernica (1937). The artist’s most recent body of works, inspired by  early Netherlandish painter Hieronymus Bosch, similarly transformed  The Garden of Earthly Delights  (ca.1490) into a ‘post-historic’, transcultural manuscript. While appearing on wfirst glance as faithful reproductions, revealed in each case are works densely populated with disparate imagery – destabilising any sense of narrative and questioning notions of authorship. “The Raft of Medusa” continues to stretch these ideas. However, while previously Lenkiewicz has driven contextual imagery together from disparate time periods and geographies, in this exhibition the scope is deliberately narrowed. Flattening history, the result perceived through the lens of the present becomes a historical deconstruction; challenging our notions of past and present, the work moves outside of history. Driving his practice further still, Lenkiewicz reduces the number of images combined, in many cases to a single dramatic pairing. His point of entry in this case is Géricault and the nineteenth century. ‘Re-sequencing’ history through the existing visual language of his images, the artist engages in the elaborate project of creating a new visual syntax – and, here, in scale as never before.


The Journey’s End YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS 600 × 887 cm The Journey’s End – the show’s monumental centrepiece standing six metres in height and almost nine in width – the power of Lenkiewicz’s process is most evident through sheer magnitude, but the resonance between art and science is present throughout his work. By breaking down the barriers between conventional and discrete groupings – both chronological and categorical – Lenkiewicz radically disrupts the linear historical timeframe, generating new meaning and a new visual language, through a startling form of hybrid. Lenkiewicz’s colossal work takes as its fundamental source the nineteenth century Romantic icon The Raft of the Medusa (1818-1819), by French painter and lithographer Théodore Géricault. However, this is no straightforward copy, instead transforming the overall meaning of the work through a radical displacement of environment and context. Survivors at peril in open sea shift in Lenkiewicz’s composition to the locus of an arctic polar wasteland, assimilating with the Caspar David Friedrich landscape, The Sea of Ice (1823-1824). Layering one disaster scene upon another – and presenting the saga in such dramatically cinematic scale – creates in effect an immense mise en scene. The overarching theme of the two works is maintained – that is, that of man and nature in conflict; and that both present the aftermath of a shipwreck provides a fitting metaphor for the cataclysmic aesthetic at the very heart of Lenkiewicz’s ‘post-historic’ practice. That The Journey’s End will be painted in San Lorenzo, Rome – the city in which Géricault himself painted his Barbary horses – further underlines the non linear aspects of history pervading this entire body of work. Questions of why an artist would wish to make work so closely based on the paintings of previous artists would be based on a falsehood: the mythology of originality. Every great painting in the history of Western art emerges from previous works by previous artists – the young Géricault, as just one topical example, took Pierre-Paul Prud’hon’s Justice and Divine Vengeance Pursuing Crime as the basis of his own naked, sprawled corpse in the foreground of The Raft.


Man Proposes God Disposes YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS 240 x 140 cm In Man Proposes God Disposes Lenkiewicz conflates Edwin Henry Landseer’s eponymous painting of 1864 with an icescape from Frederic Church’s The Icebergs (1861), with the addition of a corpse from The Raft. While Church’s work presents no living being and instead evokes the glories of the pristine environment as God’s temple. Landseer’s, made just two years later, presents the grimly materialistic potential for equating man and beast. By referencing this nineteenth century shift in notions of the sublime, Lenkiewicz once again crafts a non linear history, and in creating this amalgam warps the normal rules of narrative structure.


Fearful Symmetry YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS 200 x 120 cm In the work Fearful Symmetry (2013) tigers, lions and leopards from Landseer’s Isaac van Amburgh and his Animals (1839) have invaded the raft, replacing human presence. These seamless orchestrations create new worlds of meaning, new insights into the human condition, and revelations which could only occur when two or more paintings are synthesised into a single vision.


PORTRAITS OF THE INSANE

ART, DEATH AND MEDICINE


Introduction Alongside these epic and cinematic works, the exhibition will demonstrate the artist’s ‘post-historic’ practice through portrait and still life paintings. Lenkiewicz’s reappraisal of Géricault’s “Portraits of the Insane”combines disparate elements of the original portraits with other sources. What at first appear to be straightforward Old Master portraits are in fact subtle collages of different works. The five extant works from Géricault’s “studies” belong to a series of ten portraits of the insane inmates of Salpêtrière asylum in Paris. Géricault made these nearly at the end of his career and the five remaining portraits from the series represent the painter’s last triumph. Psychiatrist Étienne-Jean Georget, one of the founders of social psychiatry, asked Géricault to carry out these “studies” which would represent what at that time was seen as each clinical model of mental illlness. Georget conjectured that dementia was a modern disease, which depended in large part on social progress in industrialised countries. He believed that the mentally ill needed to be helped and played an important part in gaining recognition for the dignity of psychiatric patients. Instead of bringing patients to a class room to examine their physical characteristics, the young psychiatrist instructed Géricault to paint ‘models’ representing different types of madness. Dr Georget much appreciated the objectivity in this series of works that established a link between romantic art and empirical science. Lenkiewicz has taken features and postures from the remaining works of Gericault and recombined them to create a new series of portraits showing different characteristics and nuances of madness. Images of monomaniacs with delusions of grandeur, such as a make believe Napoleon and a woman who considers herself to be a bird, appear as strange companions to the original works.


“Monomania”, Identity Amnesia YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS 70 x 85 cm In “Monomania”, Identity Amnesia a patient suffering the delusion of being Napoleon has his delusion confirmed with the addition of a suitable hat from another painting. The process is more nuanced than just grafting a head onto a different body. In Georget’s circles the concept of “monomania” was conceived as a “single pathological preoccupation in an otherwise sound mind” or a form of partial insanity against the traditional notion of total insanity, meaning an illness that made patients suffer from one particular obsession or delusion such as kleptomania or erotomania.


“Religious Melancholia and Convalescence” YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS 70 x 85 cm In “Religious Melancholia and Convalescence” a man wears a woman’s hat, and the face is a combination of a man and a woman from different paintings. Lenkiewicz takes features and postures from the original works and creates a new series of portraits showing different nuances of madness, subtlety underlining once again an ontological distortion, this time founded upon notions of scientific developments in psychiatry.


“The Otherer” YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS 70 x 85 cm “The Otherer” fuses together Gericault’s Portrait of a Kleptomaniac, 1822 with another in his series of psychiatric studies Portrait of a Man Suffering from Delusions of Military Command, 1822. The later is distinct within the surviving works in that it is the only work containing any visual reference as to the nature of the sitter’s condition - the make shift medallion and tasseled military cap pointing to his delusions of military grandeur. The concept of ‘The Other’, those individuals that society often wishes to exclude as they do not fit into it’s existing order is central to the psychology of self. Here two such ‘Others’ are fragmented and recombined into an fractious amalgam.


“Dementia Praecox and Early Senility” YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS 70 x 85 cm “Dementia Praecox and Early Senility” coalesces elements from Gericault’s Portait of a Woman Suffering from Obsessive Envy (The Hyena), 1822 and Portrait of a Woman Addicted to Gambling, 1822. The use of the discredited term ‘Dementia Praecox’ in the title of the work presents a further fragmentation, this time in the history of psychiatry itself. The concept of Dementia Praecox, developed around 1896 by German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin was supposedly as an incurable psychotic disorder, “the terminal cancer of mental diseases” and was frequently diagnosed on the basis of quite arbitrary evidence.


Orlando YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS 70 x 85 cm Throughout the series von Lenkiewicz analyses and reconfigures both the physical characteristics of Gericault’s works and the social philosophy attached to them in context with their place in the history of ideas. However imbued with darkness, melancholia and isolation the works may seem there is an empathy and humanity in Gericault’s sensitive studies that speaks of his own troubled personal life and psyche.


GÉRICAULT AN


ND CHARDIN


Introduction At the same time as working on the ‘Portraits of the insane’ series Géricault carried out a number of anatomical studies based on human remains from Parisian Morgues. This came from his increasing interest in the naturalistic rendering of distressed anatomy. He began making frequent trips to morgues - in particular, that of the Hospital Beaujon in Paris. Initially these trips were intended simply to sketch body parts, however Géricault eventually found beauty in the severed limbs and heads he was studying, and began rendering them as subjects in their own right. At the time, there were programs in local morgues to lend human remains to art students for anatomical study - something like a lending library of body parts. Géricault would take them home to study them as they went through states of decomposition. He was known to stash various heads, arms, and legs under his bed - or alternately store them on his roof - so he could continue to render them in increasingly putrid states and in various angles. In the arts, vanitas is a type of symbolic work of art especially associated with still life painting in Flanders and the Netherlands in the 16th and 17th centuries, though also common in other places and periods. The Latin word means “vanity” and loosely translated corresponds to the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. In these works Von Lenkiewicz has combined the literal death still-lifes of Gericault with the works of quintessential still life painter Chardin, along with a work by his contemporary Roland de la Porte. Throughout this body of work, Wolfe von Lenkiewicz proves himself as an artist not only proficient in the skills and understandings of a painter, but also one who in his practice embraces history – or the scope to challenge it – alongside those more cerebral notions of mysticism, philosophy and theology. By bringing together disparate elements into one, notions of the modern and the postmodern and conjured, and from the power of the idea is born new language, narrative and meaning.


Still Life (Truncated Limbs And Cats) YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS 140 x 84 cm In Still Life (Truncated Limbs And Cats) Lenkiewicz conflates Géricault’s gruesome Study of feet and Hands (1818–1819) with elements from several still lifes by Chardin. The result is a scene in which startled cats step over severed limbs, arranged amidst piles of game. The artist makes explicit the implied ‘deathliness’ of the ‘vanitas’ still life – and furthermore the ‘memento mori’ reminds us of the transience of human life.


Still Life (Peaches and Guillotined Head) YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Oil on canvas DIMENSIONS 140 x 84 cm In Still Life (Peaches and Guillotined Head) the theme is taken to an extreme with Roland de la Porte’s delicately rendered Still Life (c 1765) of peaches, along with elements from Chardin, sharing a table with a severed head – and the shock of the juxtaposition is palpable. Géricault’s Head of a Guillotined Man, 1818-19, in the collection of The Art Institute of Chicago, is one of his studies which is recognisable from multiple paintings and is believed to be a thief who died in the insane asylum of Bicêtre; Géricault painted this head from multiple viewpoints over the two week period he kept it in his studio.


Intervention of The Sabine Women YEAR 2013 MEDIUM Pencil on japanese restoration paper DIMENSIONS 540 x 360 cm Wolfe von Lenkiewicz’s Intervention of The Sabine Women, appears to be a scale rendition in pencil of Jacques-Louis David’s Rape of the Sabine Women and yet on closer inspection this drawing proves itself to be an amalgamation of a series of different works by David as witnessed by the appearance of the limp, emaciated body of Marat lifted from his epic canvas The Death of Marat from 1793. The work owes it’s structure to a fusion of different elements by a single artist, that when brought together create a new singular vision born from the disparate parts of multiple originals.


Biography WOLFE VON LENKIEWICZ (BRITISH, B. 1966) SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2012 The Fountainhead, 33 Portland Place - Frieze London 2012 2012 Hieronymus Bosch, All Visual Arts, London 2011 The Beast and the Sovereign Michael Haas Gallery Berlin 2011 Liberation their Story Begins Sebastian Guinness Gallery, Dublin/ Italy 2011 I Have an Excellent Idea.....Let’s Change the Subject, All Visual Arts, London 2010 Victory Over the Sum, All Visual Arts and the Triumph Gallery, Moscow, Russia 2009 The Descent of Man, All Visual Arts, London 2008 Nu-Trinity, Simon Dickinson, London 2007 Mutagenesis, Mimmo Scognamiglio Contemporary Art, Naples 2007 Mutagenesis, Paradise Row, London 2007 Emblematic Psychosis, Ingalls & Associates, Miami 2001 The Park, T1+2 Artspace, London 2000 Hangman, T1+2 Artspace, London SELECTED GROUP SHOWS 2012 Between The Lines: A Group Drawing Show, All Visual Arts, London 2012 Metamorphosis, All Visual Arts, The Crypt, One Marylebone, London 2012 Babel, Beaux Arts de Lille, France 2012 Everywhere and Nowhere, Villa Jauss, Obersdorf, Germany 2011 The House of the Nobleman, London 2011 Deichtorhallen, Zwei Sammler, Hamburg, Germany 2010 Vanitas: The Transience of Earthly Pleasures, London 2010 The House of the Nobleman, London 2009 The Age of the Marvellous, All Visual Arts, London 2009 The Embassy, 20 Hoxton Square Projects, London 2007 Avatar of Sacred Discontent, 9 Hillgate, T1+2 Gallery, London 2007 Avatar of Sacred Discontent, Port Eliot LitFest, St Germans 2006 End of Civilization, Port Eliot Castle, St Germans 2006 Kristy Stubbs Gallery, Great Eastern Hotel, London 2005 Go Between, Magazine 4, Kunstverein, Bregenz 2005 WP.S.1 MOMA radio, Venice Biennale 2005 Redux Gallery screening of ‘Get Newton’ and Otto Muehl film interview 2005 Screening of ‘The Park’, Channel 5 TV 2005 Commission arts council to build sculpture ‘Lusus Naturae’ 2005 The Horse Hospital, screening of ‘Desum’ 2004 Port Elliot Literary Festival Film Tent, screening of ‘Desum’


2004 Redux Gallery, screening of ‘Desum’ (Vinyl 2) 2004 ICA, London 2004 Tank TV, ICA media room, exhibition screening of ‘Scopophobia’ 2004 September 2nd, talk at ICA. Interview by Laura Provoust 2003 Worlds First Congress of Fork Lift Trucks, Atlantis Gallery, London 2002 100,000 Newspapers: Gustav Metzger, Stewart Home, Wolfe Lenkiewicz, T1+2 Artspace, London 1999 The Constant of Variation, T1+2 Artspace, London

Contact Media Enquiries Tani Burns: T: 0207 377 5665 M: 07888 731 419 E: tburnsarts@gmail.com All Visual Arts 2 Omega Place, Kings Cross, London, N1 9DR T: +44 (0)207 843 0410 E: info@allvisualarts.org Websites www.allvisualarts.org www.wolfevonlenkiewicz.com


2 Omega Place Kings Cross London N1 9DR United Kingdom T: +44 (0)207 843 0410 E: info@allvisualarts.org W: www.allvisualarts.org Media Enquiries Tani T: M: E:

Burns: 0207 377 5665 07888 731 419 tburnsarts@gmail.com


ALL VISUAL ARTS LONDON

The Raft of the Medusa | Catalogue of Works  

Catalogue of works for the exhibition 'Wolfe Von Lenkiewicz: The Raft Of The Medusa' at All Visual Arts, London 13 September – 20 October 20...

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