Robert Oscar Lenkiewicz (31 December 1941 – 5 August 2002) was one of South West Endgland's most celebrated artists of modern times. Perennially unfashionable in high art circles, his work was nevertheless popular with the public. Lenkiewicz is regarded by some as a great painter who is 'finally being recognised as such after all these years of neglect by the art establishment, particularly by London, who would never have him. He didn't really play the game as far as London commercial galleries were concerned. He did his own thing out in the provinces, which was looked down upon.'
He produced as many as 10,000 works (though this figure includes his prolific output as a pencil portrait artist), often on a large scale, and in themed 'projects' investigating hidden communities or difficult social issues.
In 1981, he faked his own death, announcing his demise to the local newspapers. When Lenkiewicz died in 2002, he left behind a particularly macabre legacy as an embalmed corpse of a tramp was found hidden behind some elaborate panelling at the bottom of a bookcase.
The Lenkiewicz Foundation (educational charity) was established in 1997, received the bequest of the painter's remaining collection of works. The artist's voluminous diaries, illustrated notebooks and relationship journals are in the Foundation's collection, which was shown at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gakkery in 2009. The Foundation has curated a number of posthumous exhibitions: Self-Portraits 1956-2002 at the Ben Uri Gallery, Jewish Museum of Art in London in 2008; Lenkiewicz: The Legacy – Works from The Lenkiewicz Foundation Collection at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery in 2009; Still Lives at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol in 2011; Death and the Maiden at Torre Abbey in Torquay later that year; and Human, All Too Human at the Royal William Yard in the artist's adopted city of Plymouth in 2012. This exhibition, in expanded form, travelled to Germany (Spinnerei in Leipzig and AufAEG in Nuremberg) in 2013, where it became the first overseas exhibition of the artist's work to date.