Ap­pre­ci­at­ing art

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

Cheshire Life - - Arts & Events -

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.

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