Robert Oscar Lenkiewicz: The Glue Sniffer

© Image Copyright Robert Oscar Lenkiewicz.
England, 1986. On a trip through the south of England I took a walk in the harbor area of Plymouth where I saw this painting in a shop window or so I thought.


It turned out that it was not a shop after all but a former shop that had been turned into a artists studio. The artist working there was Robert Oscar Lenkiewicz who made it very clear that he was not a shopkeeper and hated being mistaken for one. After I apologised for intruding we had little chat nevertheless which left me deeply impressed by both the man and his work.

By accident, after more than 20 years, I found the painting on Google Images (I love the net) and I still recall the deep impression it had on me when I first saw it because it proved that 'traditional' painting is as important as it ever was. Before seeing this painting I had always thought that realistic painting was a thing of the past, boring and rendered useless by the invention of photography. 'The Glue Sniffer' changed that once and for all.

I had always hoped to return and meet him again one day but it was not to be. Robert Oscar Lenkiewicz died on the 6th of August, 2002.

The man is gone but, as they say, his legacy remains.

The masters series: Joe Petagno (Pt. 2)

© Image copyright Joe Petagno.
Another Perfect Day (pictured left) is another fine example for the intensity and skill of Joe Petagnos oeuvre yet it also sets itself apart from the typical heavy metal imagery by somewhat abstracting the familiar Snaggletooth theme.

Interesting is also that both the Motörhead headline and the album title are part of the artwork itself rather than being added later.

This image had a lasting influence on my own way of seeing things and taught me to always try and observe things from different angles.

Some people may call this commercial illustration, I call it a masterpiece.

I love the album, too, but I seem to be contrary to popular opinion on this one.

Interview by Duncan Cardillo, Wayne State University, Detroit

Questions: The Stuckist manifesto attacks art school education, saying it "...has become a slick bureaucracy, whose primary motivation is financial." Do you agree with the Stuckists opinion of art education? Do you think artists coming out of art school today are misguided by the educational system? Is there too much emphasis on theory and postmodernism?
That I can not answer from personal experience, because I have never been to art school. The main point here is that at a university people are being prepared for a CAREER and art school is no difference. For me the emphasis has always been on the ART ITSELF ignoring the career consequences. My objective has been always creating, not learning how to support myself through creating.

Did you study art at the university level, and if so, what was your experience like?
See above. I don't fit too well into hierarchies and I am not good at taking orders. Painting is the one field in my life where there are no limits, no compromises, total freedom, I can do what I like. Going to art school would have meant that I would have had to subordinate myself to a professor who would then have tried to force HIS point of view onto me thus obstructing the development of MY way. I could not allow this to happen.

If you identify yourself as a Stuckist, does it necessarily follow that you dislike conceptual art, installation art, or performance art?
Not necessarily. The thing that seems to annoy the Stuckists (and most people in general) is that most concept art lacks honesty, that spectators feel that are being made fun of. To me most of it looks like a clever money making scam and it does give contemporary art a bad name. There may be exceptions to that, though, and the line is not clear.

Do you communicate with other Stuckist groups?
Yes very frequently, in fact the German Stuckists are holding group exibitions (aptly entitled STUCKOMENTA) regularly, the next one will be taking place here in Munich at the end of March, 2007.

Is the Internet the catalyst for your becoming a Stuckist?
The Internet is the platform that makes most things possible and even though I came to know about Stuckism by reading a book, all communication has been over the net.

How do you respond to the charge that Stuckists are retrogressive, reactionary, conservative, or their work is derivative of older modern art movements-that Stuckism is indeed "stuck" in the past?
Wo cares ? All art is derivative to a certain extent. Bear in mind that Stuckism is not a style, it's a movement. And all those terms are just words, labels put on our work by someone else. The only thing that really matters is doing the artistic work, painting the paintings, taking the photographs, drawing the drawings, writing the books, writing the poetry. What somebody else thinks is of no importance to me. I am an idiot today, a hero tomorrow, an idiot again the day after, who cares ?

Why be a Stuckist-why identify with a group if artists are valued for their individuality?
As a Stuckist you don't hand over your individuality when you walk through the door. I have not adjusted the way I live and work even a little bit. The only difference now (after joining the Stuckists) is that I am what I am but I also (additionally) am a Stuckist.

Do you follow closely the developments of the original Stuckists?
I check the webpage regularly and I am in loose contact with some of the other Stuckists.

Is Stuckism in your nation different from British Stuckism, and how so?
It is at a whole different level here. In the UK you have lots of groups and also a lot of attention. In Germany it is still totally underground, just a few people organising their own shows. Attention is growing, though, and doing indpendent exhibitions is a lot of fun.

Do you agree with Charles Thomson and Billy Childish that art should be spiritually based?
How can it not be ? If what you do is not spiritually based, then it is hollow, lacking meaning, why bother ?

Do you think postmodern art practices are devoid of spirituality?

I don't know enough about postmodern art practices to make a judgement.

What is your opinion of young British artists ("yBas") such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Chris Ofili, etc.?
I have no real opinion about them because I have never met any of them in person and they don't speak to me through their work. If, for example, I look at Hirst's shark I feel ... nothing.

Do you think they are successful because they know how to promote themselves better than other artists do?

Definetely. And because they have had the right people supporting them in the background.

Interview conducted by Duncan Cardillo, Wayne State University, Detroit, March 2007

The masters series: Joe Petagno

© Image copyright Joe Petagno
Heavy Metal art has been featured under sources of inspiration in this blog more than once because it did inspire me more than anything, definetely more than the socalled "high culture" which has remained alien to me (mostly) to this day.

Joe Petagno has his unmistakable style and the images he created for Motörhead are imprinted on the collective consciousness of a whole generation.

What makes the difference is the display of pure energy that is missing from a lot of socalled radical art these days.

See
www.petagno.dk for more information.

Wizards (Ralph Bakshi Part One)

© Image copyright 2007 Bakshi Productions
The Ralph Bakshi Film Wizards released in 1977 had probably the deepest influence on my graphic style because it mixes various different styles by somehow layering various images on top of each other.
Remember, this was back in the pre-computer age and the images in the movie were done by hand.
More information on Wizards can be found at www.ralphbakshi.com.

Watch the movie if you can, it's pretty hard to obtain in Europe, hopefully there will be a DVD re-release one day.

Why staging a Stuckist show is also a political statement

Please forgive me for stating the obvious but some things have to be stressed every now and then in order not to allow them to be forgotten. Having the possibility to privately organise an exhibition of unconventional paintings and photographs is a privilege and a fairly new one at that.

Not so long ago in Germany's dark past most of the paintings exhibited in a show like the STUCKOMENTA 3 would have been considered 'degenerate' in the official language of that time. The artists involved could have been subjected to all sorts of abuse, ranging from personal harrassment to imprisonment, or worse.

Even if the term 'degenerate' is not used anymore nowadays many of the paintings shown would be impossible to exhibit in quite a few countries for the simple fact that they contain nudity or other subject matter that is considered 'unsuitable' or 'obscene' there.

Being able to organise a show of paintings without the fear of censorship, without risking negative consequences from official channels is a privilige not shared by the majority of people on planet earth. A good example for censorship still being present today is the fate of Stuckist collage artist Michael Dickinson who was imprisoned in Turkey for making a collage that critisizes the head of state, a thing forbidden in Turkey. (--> details)

Freedom of expression is not a given, and even though one is tempted to take it for granted, it has to be defended and fought for constantly.

If staging an independent art exhibition is helping just a little bit then that is an additional motivation to keep doing what we do.

View From The Balcony

2007 | Dimensions: Appr. 200 x 40 cm
Collage, acrylics, Molotow markers and ballpen
on paper
This set of three pictures depicts the view from the balcony while the southern wind is blowing.

It makes the Bavarian Alps seem very close although they are more than 100 kilometers away.

Private View STUCKOMENTA 3


30. March, 2007
Stuckomenta 3, 10 artists from 3 countries in Munich.

Artists who made a personal apperance: Stuckists Mary von Stockhausen, Christian Malsch and Frank Christopher Schroeder as well as guest artists Birgit Richter-Trautmann and Manuel Goetz.

The estimated 100 plus guests responded very well in many different ways both to the exhibition itself and the fact that it was a selforganised and independent show, manifesting itself among other things in half a dozen sales on that very evening.

The exhibition space, a comunity center that includes an 88 seat cinema, is rather unusual as a venue for hanging paintings and gave the show an additional underground edge.

Photographs of the event are available here.

STUCKOMENTA III

Here we go again: The STUCKOMENTA series of exhibitions makes a stop in Munich. The number of exhibiting artists has meanwhile increased to ten so the variety keeps getting bigger.

The show will be held at the Forum2 in the Olympic Village. It will run from March 30 through May 12, 2007.

A vernissage will be held on the opening day, March 30, 2007, from 8pm to 11pm. Admission is free.

More information can be found here.