David Hockney, by Stanley Lench, at Warrington Museum and Art Gallery until January 19th. Sadly, Lench’s depression hampered his creativity Cheshire Life: January 2019
The story of Stanley Lench is a tragic tale of unrealised potential and how damaging poor mental health can be if left untreated.
Lench suffered from depression for much of his life, an illness which was first diagnosed when he was just 14. After suffering the first of several major breakdowns he was hospitalised and it was during this period that he first started to paint. Despite having no formal art training Lench discovered he had both a talent and a love for painting and by devoting himself to its practice he found some relief from the symptoms of his illness.
His dedication proved fruitful; at just 21 his work was exhibited at the renowned Beaux Arts Gallery in Mayfair. On the strength of this exhibition he was admitted to the Royal College of Art. After graduating, Lench’s success continued with further exhibitions in London and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, who purchased his portrait of the actress Pola Negri.
Despite this early promise, Lench’s artistic career stalled. He suffered from regular bouts of depression brought on by a pathological fear of rejection. This was compounded by his day job as a steward at the Tate Gallery. Here he was surrounded daily by art and artists who he felt were unworthy, and by a client base unaware of his own artistic talent.
Despite the abstract nature of this work the subject is clearly identifiable as the British artist David Hockney. It is from a series of paintings of iconic stars from the 1960s which also include great names from the world of music and film.
The use of bold black lines demonstrates Lench’s love of stained glass and the vibrant use of colour and dreamlike motifs show the influence of both pop art and psychedelia. But there are also elements of cubism and it is this unique blend which highlights why the Museum of Modern Art chose to exhibit his work alongside that of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall.