Oy Vey!

This topic contains 53 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Christopher Raven 12 years, 7 months ago. This post has been viewed 3309 times

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  • #6177

    007
    Participant

    It’s encouraging to see Nahem Shoa pick up the Lenkiewicz baton, more so given his relationship to Lenkiewicz; he is able to pass a qualified opinion after all. Since he is now publishing items on .org maybe he could post some thoughts on the 'Hartlepool - uncompromising study' show. How did the ‘man in the street’ react to Paper Crowns I wonder? It must have caused some specific discussion alongside such easily digested fare as Lucian Freud and contrast greatly with the other Jewish artists featured such as Frank Auerbach.Shoa.jpgHowever, there must be a better path to credibility for Lenkiewicz than playing the Jewish card, surely the least remarkable of any aspect of his life and works. Figurative artists existed before, during and after WWII. It’s not a precursor that you should have suffered (directly or indirectly) through such trauma. Taking the Jewish path and layering in the Holocaust inevitably leads us to Fascism, a word that lacks definition in itself but typically presented in this way locks Lenkiewicz into the Nazi/totalitarian variant of the word, thus placing him in a box without escape and confusing his philosophy.Stressing the Jewish in Lenkiewicz might therefore be likely to erect barriers not create openings. Lenkiewicz is far too controversial to be picked up by the pro-Jewish art establishment. I don’t see the Ben Uri crowd beating a path to Plymouth in a hurry Nahem do you?I don’t doubt you admiration for both Freud and Lenkiewicz as artists but it's an almost a daily occurrence that someone tries to bracket or contrast an artist with Freud. I maintain that if you share the stage with Freud then it’s a marketing exercise, not a reflection of Lenkiewicz free standing talents. Freud owes everything to Stanley Spencer and the Camden Group, nothing to your list of influences. Lenkiewicz has dimensions that are unique, Freud is commercially successful I grant you, but money (value) does not convey aesthetic greatness although a certain section of society could not distinguish (and lets face it Freud carefully manages the supply side of his art). Ironically (given his grandfather) one thing is certain about Freud, he specialises in highly contrived, stage managed canvas productions where he concentrates on the surface of an actor (or prop, I here some of the warts n all were stuck on for effect). Lenkiewicz paints real people and in doing so captures statements of the human condition, it’s what he set out to do. Freud’s painting is confined to the human surface, they are vastly different.On Lenkiewicz’s use of colour I agree with you fully.

    #8515

    Francis
    Participant

    The Jewish influence in Lenkiewicz's work and ideas is a discussion well worth having and Kevin's post raises some interesting points.

    However, there must be a better path to credibility for Lenkiewicz than playing the Jewish card, surely the least remarkable of any aspect of his life and works...Taking the Jewish path and layering in the Holocaust inevitably leads us to Fascism, a word that lacks definition in itself but typically presented in this way locks Lenkiewicz into the Nazi/totalitarian variant of the word, thus placing him in a box without escape and confusing his philosophy.Stressing the Jewish in Lenkiewicz might therefore be likely to erect barriers not create openings. Lenkiewicz is far too controversial to be picked up by the pro-Jewish art establishment. I don’t see the Ben Uri crowd beating a path to Plymouth in a hurry Nahem do you?

    But I don't think that an attempt to trace the Jewish roots in Lenkiewicz's work necessarily equates with "playing the Jewish card". It's surely a question of analysing how much influence this played in the formulation of his themes. It would be fascinating to see a view of his work from a Jewish perspective. However, the point Kevin makes about the interpretation of the word "Fascism" is well made. It's always going to be a temptation for people to hear the word and think of it politically and historically, thereby completely missing the main and most original point of Lenkiewicz's philosophical ideas.

    #8516

    007
    Participant

    But I don't think that an attempt to trace the Jewish roots in Lenkiewicz's work necessarily equates with "playing the Jewish card". It's surely a question of analysing how much influence this played in the formulation of his themes. It would be fascinating to see a view of his work from a Jewish perspective.

    Of course Lenkiewicz regarded Jewish ideology in the same way as any other fanatical belief system. All fanatical beliefs ask the individual to supplant humanist instinct with mass thought, to suggest that his own work could be influenced by a specific fanatical belief would be misleading.Maybe those who believe that Noah really salvaged all that exists today in a giant wooden boat should make their views known here now, we can help you.

    #8517

    Francis
    Participant

    Having raised a fascinating topic for debate, Kevin, it would be better not to back yourself into a corner, especially when I largely agree with your fundamental point. But, I'm sure, as a scholar and academic, you'll appreciate research into the roots of Lenkiewicz's work and ideas. Let me quote a few random examples of Robert's own words from the interview in “R.O.Lenkiewicz”:

    A: I didn't know such things as anti-Semitism existed because I went to school at the Menorah Primary School...However my brother and I had to leave and we entered the real world - Beckford Primary School. That's where I encountered Harvey, the first uninitiated anti-Semite I came across

    #8518

    007
    Participant

    Professional, well conducted interviews tend to confront the interviewee with the anomalies they present us, in doing so we gain better levels of objective understanding. Often (typically when the interviewee seeks to please, manipulate, is bored or is just taking the p###) the interviewer will simply hear or be presented with what they wanted to hear.A discerning editor would be both wary of, and fascinated by this QnA;

    Q: Your background was one of European Jewish emigres - what influence do you think that has had upon you and your work?A: In my opinion, probably profound. At the age of 16 I would have said none, at 25 I would have said occasionally, and the older I get the more embedded I find I am in real Yiddisher schmaltz of one kind or another; particularly schmilosophy as opposed to philosophy. A very strong influence, no doubt.

    Lenkiewicz is telling you that his life and work is increasingly influenced by Jewish sentimentality, this is contra to his modus. You must have followed up on this response surely?So, more reasons then not to play the Jewish card and increasing evidence that consideration should be applied when Lenkiewicz presents us with anomalies, particularly ones that are repackaged and copied into the public domain;However those who are persuaded that being Jewish is more likely to make you a figurative artist and social enquirer and point to “R.O.Lenkiewicz” as proof of the schmaltz factor. Should consider that in doing so you;(1) Create distinct confusion between Lenkiewicz’s philosophical theories and Jewish History (aesthetic fascism).(2) Compromise his thoughts on fanatical belief systems (the Lekutei Torah would have to be excluded for schmaltz reasons).(3) Compromise his thoughts on ‘self’ (not believing in a self he could hardly profess to be a vessel for schmaltz).(4) Compromise his objectivity as an impartial instrument of his own enquiry (everything seen through a schmaltz lens).(5) Suggest that all of his work is executed with a Jewish aesthetic (everything covered in schmaltz). The most potent form of schmaltz represented in his last works.So if you can identify a unique, evidence based or well reasoned correlation between the Jewish theological doctrine (being Jewish) and Lenkiewcz’s aesthetic and philosophic motor then this would be worthy of publication.

    #8519

    Francis
    Participant

    As entertained as I am by these debates, Kevin, your tendency towards a stylistic combination of philosophical jargon and cliche without recourse to sentences can be very irritating. One thing that's clear though is that you seem to have made the basic error of confusing Jewish culture with Judaism.Tell me, from where do you think Lenkiewicz's theory of aesthetic fascism is derived? Purely from his philosophical readings presumably? Or was it, like for Saul, sorry I mean Paul on the Road to Damascus, a moment of divine revelation?"Lenkiewicz is telling you that his life and work is increasingly influenced by Jewish sentimentality", you say. Sorry to disillusion you but actually no, he's not. He's telling anyone that wants to listen that he's an artist not a philosopher. His lasting contribution is an artistic vision not a philosophical system.If you pay more attention, you'll see that no-one is claiming that "being Jewish is more likely to make you a figurative painter or sociological enquirer". As Robert nicely points out in the earlier quote, so many of the New York School of abstract painters, Rothko, Hofmann, Franz Kline, Barnett Newmann, Frankenthaler - I could go on - were all from Jewish backgrounds. Even the great critic of Abstract Expressionism, Clement Greenberg, was Jewish. Do you see this as coincidence? Similarly here, amongst the names of post-war British figurative painting, we have Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud, Leon Kossoff and maybe here we can add Lenkiewicz, all from German/Russian Jewish extraction. Another coincidence, I guess.Curiously, your own posts show the most obvious sign of holding a fanatical belief - your dogmatic views are self-proving while choosing to ignore all evidence that doesn't fit (most of it).

    #8520

    007
    Participant

    Francis, I am uncomfortable with you fretting over my posts and writing responses in the early hours (Last Edit: Today between 00:34:00 and 02:34:21 AM by Francis), it’s not healthy, but it might go some way to explain how disorientated you have become.So let’s recap. You are suggesting that there is something called ‘Jewish Culture’ which is distinct and free standing from Jewish belief, it can be defined (by you), that (so called) ‘Jewish Culture’ produces a disproportionate number of artists/or better artists/or figurative/or social enquirers/or abstract/or with long names/or just in New York or something … but either way its significant because Asian/Dutch/German/British … or any other logical group couldn’t produce artists and its unique blah …. (You should start a thread on this; it would be a scream …)Seriously though, putting the comedy to one side for a moment, you are also saying that the QnA between you and Robert went like this;Q: Your background was one of European Jewish emigres - what influence do you think that has had upon you and your work?A: In my opinion, probably profound. At the age of 16 I would have said none, at 25 I would have said occasionally, and the older I get the more embedded I find I am in real Yiddisher schmaltz of one kind or another; particularly schmilosophy as opposed to philosophy. A very strong influence, no doubt.But in your head you heard the following exchange;Q: You are of (a/the/some/all) ‘Jewish Culture(s)’ – what influences do you think that has had upon you and your work?A:

    #8521

    Francis
    Participant

    Sometimes I have to work late for a living, Kevin, amd you're my light entertainment when I'm relaxing. Better check your watch though if you've not realised the clock on the website is wrong.Surely by now your vast learning has taught you that many Jews since the Enlightenment have not relied upon religion for their identity but still identified themselves ethnically, politically and culturally as Jewish. You don't have to listen to me. Here's Gary Tobin, head of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research: "So many of our traditions inherently contain aspects of culture. Look at the Passover Seder - it's essentially great theatre. Jewish education and religiosity bereft of culture is not as interesting."Of course the great tradition of Jewish religious scholarship allowed Jews to succeed particularly well in certain professions such as academia, the learned professions and science. The Arts could be included here since study, training and discipline are equally vital. Where Jews congregated into significant communities, they have frequently played a large part in the literary and artistic culture. You need only think of fin-de-siecle Vienna. Or maybe you think that Schoenberg, Mahler, Gerstl et al. might equally have originated from downtown Tokyo? Other obvious examples are artists in 1920s Paris, 1950s New York and, here's the point, post-war London. Most of them were not religious or practising Jews (Chagall is a rare example). Try reading W.G.Sebald's "The Emigrants", especially the section on the artist Max Ferber (supposedly based on Auerbach, though he disowned it). For a culture in which "thou shalt make no graven image" had been deeply instilled, painting the figure was an obviously resonant form of expression.But I still have to laugh when you claim that Robert was dissembling in his response to the question about his background, yet won't accept the face-value meaning that he finally realised that he was just a painter, whose philosophical credibility would always be doubtful. Always the problem for those that are self-taught of course - they'll always be viewed as charlatans.

    #8522

    007
    Participant

    I think Kevin might be right on this one, Francis – there's no such thing as a 'Jewish culture'. That's why Mel Brooks and Jackie Mason might as well have been Italians. If Woody Allen had been born to Presbyterian farmers in Ohio he would still have made 'Zelig', right?

    #8523

    007
    Participant

    Jack in your eagerness to ‘Nod vigorously’ whenever Francis takes to stage or page you have missed the point;I will recap;Francis makes the claim that being Jewish is more likely to make someone a figurative painter and social enquirer.Meanwhile, you seem to think that being Jewish is more likely to make someone a comedian. Being more self assured, you are going a bit further and suggesting that people are less likely to become a comedian if they belong to groups called ‘Italians’ or ‘Presbyterian farmers in Ohio’, although to be fair, Francis does take a rather unfair pop a ‘downtown Tokyo’ by suggesting it couldn’t produce a composer, artist or anything.In trying to defend his point of view Francis is producing laundry lists, has buried himself in misunderstanding the Haskala, and is now relying on Gary Tobin whilst not recognising the oxymoron.However, all of this fun pales into insignificance once you realise that Francis is now suggesting that in a private confessional between himself and Robert Lenkiewicz, via an act of osmosis Lenkiewicz told him that he should only ever be regarded as ‘just a painter’ because he feared (or Francis feared on his behalf) ridicule by academia if word got out that he was a closet philosopher – Francis may have used some form of hypnotic suggestion though because there is no evidence of a fair, clear question ever being put to Robert. All of this fun features in Francis’s new book called “R.O.Lenkiewicz” - It was warmly endorsed on this site by some guy called Jason Semmens - you might know him he likes to ‘Nod vigorously’ too.

    #8524

    Francis
    Participant

    I will recap;Francis makes the claim that being Jewish is more likely to make someone a figurative painter and social enquirer.

    You seem to have got stuck on this one, Kevin. Where did you read this? Have you forgotten already that this was your own interpretation? To recap accurately, the question you're being asked to address (and consistently avoid) is whether in specific times and places it is sheer coincidence that artists from a Jewish background have played such an influential role in the culture around them and whether there are common themes in their work? Tokyo, Bombay or Uluru may well have produced equally interesting artists with their own identifiable cultural concerns but with no link to those artists stemming from a Central European/Jewish background.Then, more specifcally, you're being asked what influence you think Lenkiewicz's Jewish background played in his art and ideas. Try considering for instance Robert's description of his first theme of Rabbinical paintings - unless you think I made that up too.It would make a change to hear something specific from you instead of all these vague generalisations, always hinting at views and knowledge which are never produced. As far as I can recall, you have yet to offer any interesting opinion that would add to an understanding of Lenkiewicz's work.Finally you state that "all this fun features in Francis's new book". Quote the examples. My guess is that you've not read it.

    #8525

    007
    Participant

    Sorry Francis, it never occurred to me that you didn’t understand your own questions. You posed (and answered incorrectly) the following;

    Could Lenkiewicz's work have been produced without his Jewish emigree background? I think not.

    We can agree for now that Lenkiewicz’s work is that of a “figurative painter and social enquirer”. So your expanded question is;Could figurative painting and social enquiry (Lenkiewicz’s work) have been produced without his Jewish émigré background?The answer is clearly YES, figurative painting and social enquiry occurs in many cultures (socio groups), each distinct culture that is, it is not peculiar to one group, and therefore, being a Jewish émigré can never be the cause for becoming a (or producing) figurative painter and social enquirer.What you typically preset as questions are often logical fallacies. By playing this back to you

    Francis makes the claim that being Jewish is more likely to make someone a figurative painter and social enquirer.

    I hoped you might see the absurdity of you self answered question.

    #8526

    007
    Participant

    So your expanded question is;Could figurative painting and social enquiry (Lenkiewicz’s work) have been produced without his Jewish émigré background?

    No Kevin, that's your question, or at least the one you wish Francis had asked to justify your response.The actual question was are there elements within Robert's figurative painting and social enquiry that can reasonably be ascribed to a cultural perspective and set of sensibilities that derive from Lenkiewicz's experiences as the son of Jewish emigres?Look at this passage:

    What events were inspiring you to paint at this stage?Oh, anything at all.

    #8527

    Christopher Raven
    Participant

    Wonderful debate gentlemen, the most fun I've seen on .org for some time.

    #8528

    Francis
    Participant

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