South West Masters showcase for Bay art lovers

Joseph Bulmer

"You'm longer dead than you'm alive" words attributed to Diogenese, an unfortunate individual whose words would likely have gone unknown were it not for his association with the notorious Plymouth painter Robert Oscar Lenkiewicz.

Stephen Barrett, enthusiast, host, model, and friend of Lenkiewicz during the Plymouth years, tells of how Diogenese, in his unique way, would steward Robert’s exhibitions, sitting outside the venue, pipe clenched tight between his lips, insisting entry was charged at fifty pence or one pound as visitors approached.

It was a practice Robert never discouraged, his fascination with vagrants, tramps and down-and-outs was well documented.

This anecdote, amongst others, are shared over a glass of wine at Torbay’s Artizan Gallery, next to an unusual Lenkiewicz work that depicts Diogenese.

It is one of a handful of originals on display for the first time, brought together by Barrett and curated and displayed by Artizan Gallery for the Southwest Masters showcase, their 2022 launching exhibition which also features the work of the late Arthur Homeshaw R.W.A. (Royal West of England Academician), and Richard Slater R.I. (Royal Institute of Watercolourists).

All three were Westcountry talents whose works have been belatedly recognised.

Diogenese would go on to be embalmed by Lenkiewicz and ultimately reside in his studio until the artists own death in 2002. The story of the discovery is well known primarily because of the farce executed by Lenkiewicz that preceded it, but a less macabre find at the residence was that of the artist’s palettes.

Barrett by chance stumbled upon these at Plymouth Auction Rooms in May 2017, a banana box full of unassuming black boards that he went on to restore and are now presented for the first time as a whole collection as part of Artizan’s exhibition.

The exhibition runs now until February 12. For more information on the exhibition visit www.art-hub.co.uk/ex/rl2

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