The Smithson Collection was not started as a conscious decision but was born out of our passion for Robert’s work and a decision to buy oil paintings to decorate some of the wall space we had with pictures that we loved – it had no start date and certainly has no completion date. It will continue to grow organically as we add what we consider to be Robert’s finest work to this collection.
Our first Lenkiewicz purchase came as a package and comprised one self-portrait and two other pictures, Karen Leaning on a Chair and A Study of Romney. All three were equal in size at 60cm square and had one thing in common, they were all ‘fully resolved’ pictures, finished to a very high degree without any part of the canvas left ‘unfinished’.
Lenkiewicz painted in varying degrees; sometimes it appears he considered a work finished even though to the viewer there was only part of a hand or foot painted, while the rest of the picture was complete. There are also the looser painted images, none the worse for that, just in a different style. So unknowingly we had embarked upon a type of picture we like to describe, as above, ‘fully resolved’.
Once hung it soon became apparent that the three pictures drew your eye far more than any other image in the room. The imagery and palette were like a magnet to the senses, almost obscuring the other paintings. After just one purchase, albeit of three pictures, we were fascinated and in awe of the strength of the images.
The next oil came as a massive 180 centimetre square canvas depicting Anna Navas Seated in Front of the Last Judgement Window. Again a fully resolved work and one that had been printed in a limited edition. This purchase settled the issue and the collecting of works by Lenkiewicz began, as in one of his Projects, Addiction.
We were not in a hurry to just accumulate works; a pattern had formed of the type of image that fitted the four we already had and so deviation from that path was not an option. We visited galleries, auctions and private houses, sifting through so many wonderful pictures, very few of which conformed to the standard we had unwittingly started.
After what seemed like an age two more pictures became available, A Study of Patti and Anna with the Stained Glass Window. The latter having been published by Washington Green, again as a limited edition.
The rest as you will see from the film was just a matter of time and patience. All but five of the paintings have been framed in identical surrounds, slips and non-reflective glass, which when seen together creates a striking uniformity and puts a little more emphasis on the word ‘collection’.
It is bewildering how many people claim they ‘knew’ Robert Lenkiewicz. Had they just seen him from a distance or actually spoken to him or formed a friendship. We reserve judgement, however it was wonderful how people gravitated towards him.
We did not know him personally, although I had visited his studio in 1994 when he was there, but only had a few moments to see him on the far side of the room.
The initial purchase of our first three pictures was in 2011 and we now have forty pictures, all oil on canvas or board and only one in ink, The Three Ages of Proust.
The magnetism, the draw, the obsession has not diminished, as we hope in some way it impacts on you.
Please click on any of the images to see a larger version together with explanatory notes on the story behind each piece.
If you only see one picture that makes a lasting impression, then we shall consider this website a success.