The Diogenes Show: Robert Lenkiewicz

The Diogenes Show: Robert Lenkiewicz
New Street Gallery, 38, New St, Barbican, PL1 2NA

Marking the 40th anniversary of Robert Lenkiewicz’s ‘The Diogenes Con Show’ (1976) The Lenkiewicz Foundation presents an exhibition of paintings, artefacts, unseen archive material and rare photographs which record the relationship between Lenkiewicz and one his great muses, the vagrant named Diogenes (Edwin Mackenzie 1912-1984).

In this exhibition the artist’s fascination with ‘memento mori’ (remember you will die) will be seen though the focus of the vagrant. To Lenkiewicz Diogenes, and other ‘wanderers’, were a constant reminder of the passing of time and human mortality. He saw in their chaotic lives a metaphor for time’s indifference to human permanence and a rich vein of ‘Fool symbolism’, mocking our grandiose pretensions.

Lenkiewicz’s interest in memento mori was prevalent throughout his life and career. He famously faked his own death in 1981, explaining that ‘being thought dead’ was the closest anyone could come to the experience of death itself.

Diogenes’ legacy is the greatest memento mori of all, after he made a gift of his own body to Lenkiewicz when he passed in 1984. The Lenkiewicz Foundation are the legal custodians of the body and now, modern 3D scanning technology has enabled us to experience the object differently and blur the line between art and artefact.