Lennie Lee’s heart has been broken, he tells of lying in hospital following open heart surgery in a morphine induced state, he tells of being visited by a beautiful red-headed angel of death who greeted him like a long-lost lover, he felt warm and complete and happy to see her, but the angel floated away to the bed next to him leaving him feeling he had lost something. On recovering the following morning he discovered the man in the bed next to him had died in the night.
“Lennie is still looking for his beautiful red-headed angel of death”.
We keep on saying that you really have to see this painter’s work or that painter’s work in the flesh, how looking at the pieces via a computer screen does a really good painter’s work very little justice, how you need to breathe the paint, sense the colour, feel the scale, the energy – an obvious thing to keep saying of course, but you really have to go see a good painting in the flesh to really really feel it, to get it. All this is especially so when it comes to these big paintings of Lennie Lee. Sure, they look good on-line, the graphic richness, that perfectly painted flat colour that has so much in terms of depth and dimension, so so much when you stand there face to face looking into those eyes, there being pulled in, the intoxicating colour, the size of the pieces, the enticing warmth. I like Lennie’s work, I like Lennie, he one of the happiest painters I know – or atleast he appears to be – always good to see Lennie at an East London show, he is one of the East’s characters, one of the originals…
“Lennie Lee, born 1958, Johannesburg, South Africa, is one of the original East London artists and curators. His house has been a London landmark for more than twenty years hosting exhibitions and performances by international artists. An expert on underground art., Lee has amassed one of the biggest collections in Europe. Widely known as a painter and performance artist, Lee has worked with a range of media including objects, installations and photographic media as well as creating editions and multiples. His work explores the complex relationship between contemporary urban daily life and the life-styles, beliefs and rituals of more primitive cultures”.
I wasn’t really prepared for how much I was going to enjoy this show, I make no secret of it, slickness turns me off, graphic painting and flat “perfection” doesn’t do it for me, this really shouldn’t work for me – but it does, these paintings are alive with life, with colour, with just the right sense of colour, a beautiful colour sense, alive with warmth, with devilish spirit, these are beautiful things, big bold beautiful exciting things, wonderful paintings and to see them all together like this is really something special. We’ve been to dozens of shows this year already, with the exception of that second room and those four paintings of Rachel Howard’s current Der Kuss show at Blain Southern, this is the art show that has excited the most so far this year. Wonderful. I was expecting it to be fun, to be playful, to politely impress, I was expecting to be mildly positive in a rather uncommited way about it all, I really didn’t expect to react like this, I mean Mexican imagery, day of the dead, it has been rather overdone in the last few years, every half-arsed street artist, every recently opened tattoo parlour on every street ever, cultural appropriation, but there’s so much more here, there’s real connection, a reverential understanding, a respect, this is genuine, this is real, this is an exciting collection of paintings (and looking at the photos on-line in this case, rather than just giving a vague idea, in this case those photos might even be deceiving you, don’t look at the photos, jsut go to the show, just go and see why a collection of paintings can be so exciting). This is a beautiful show, these a striking pieces and gathered together like this in three small rooms of a rather inviting empty Edwardian ground floor flat in East London, they’re really something special.
it is a beautifully hung show, curated by Martin Vintner-Jackson, he deserves a mention here, the space has been used so well, the paintings hung in just the right way (we see so many badly hung shows, it is worth mentioning when a hang is good, it is an art in itself, these things don’t just happen, hours and hours are spent juggling things). We;re in a flat in Hoxton, East London, a small flat on the ground floor of rather pleasant Edwardian block, a private flat rather than a gallery, apparently in-between tenants and empty for a couple of weeks so the chance to use the empty space came up. The glimps of the top of painting through the window is the only real clue, it’s kind of fun looking for it (an no that doesn’t mean we approve of those damn galleries wh ohide themselves behind unmarked doors). Disgusting night to be out looking at art, filthy rain that isn’t quite snow, the needs for lots of clothing, but art must be pursued, this is no time to be staying in, the show is only on for a week, art must be explored…
“My Broken Heart’ is a collection of work where he explores his vision of the beautiful angel of death in an attempt to capture the completeness she gave him while his heart was quite literally broken. For this show Lennie draws on his love of Mexican cultural, London characters, street art and the great myth of the red-headed women in art.. Lennie is still looking for his beautiful red headed angel of death. ‘My Broken Heart’ is a collection of work where he explores his vision of the beautiful angel of death in an attempt to capture the completeness she gave him while his heart was quite literally broken. For this show Lennie draws on his love of Mexican cultural, London characters, street art and the great myth of the red headed women in art”.
Hey look, we’re rather pleased we forced ourselves out of the door last night, the photos do the show and the power of the paintings no favours whatsoever, they give you very little feel for the scale or the beautiful way they are painted, for the warmth or the way they look back at you, entice you, this is an exceptionally good show, Lennie Lee is an exceptionally good painter, do try and get to see it if you can, art excites again (sw)
The exhibition runs from 11th February until 18th February, with a special evening opening on 15 February (6:00pm until 9pm). More details via te Facebook event page or more on on Lennie via his website or Instagram feed. The show happens at 95 Haberdasher Street, London, N1 6EH
If you realy must, then click on am image to enlarge or to run the fractured slideshow (what did we d obefore camera phones?)