The School of Night


13th - 19th November 2018


The Saatchi Gallery is pleased to present Wolfe von Lenkiewicz: The School of Night. The exhibition will feature exceptional new works, with the highlight being a vast ten metre canvas, based on Rembrandt’s, The Night Watch.       

The organic forms in Lenkiewicz’s new series of works with their jewel-like hues, refracting colour, pattern and light in some cases embellish and in others obfuscate the originals.  This semi-hallucinatory effect creates a conduit between surface and interiority, an alchemical reaction between the real and imagined, intersecting the genres of history and natural history painting, that results in work that is visually arresting and highly original.


The title of this focal piece and also the name of the exhibition, refers to Shakespeare’s play, Loves Labour Lost. Lenkiewicz has taken an extract in which the King of Navarre says, “Black is the badge of hell, the hue of dungeons and the school of night”.  The School of Night refers to a secret society of alchemists, a group of men centred on Sir Walter Raleigh, Thomas Harriot and Christopher Marlowe.


In the centre of the painting The School of Night, King Charles I, re-enacts Midas, the King of Phrygia, who possessed the capacity to turn everything he touched into gold. Charles I can be seen on his white stallion, encapsulated within a crystal, while summoning the gold spectacle surrounding him. To the left of the King stands his cavaliers, three sentinels standing beneath a red stellar cloud with their steeple like forms acting as antennae. Presiding beside the dog and dwarf is Queen Henrietta Maria encapsulated within a vast crystallised ruby.


Other paintings in the exhibition include, Christ on the Cross, from Velazquez’s haunting crucifixion.The nude study for this painting is exceptional and masterly in its fusion of serenity, dignity and nobility and is reinterpreted as a thorn bush in the form of an oriental ivory carving. With a muted palette, Lenkiewicz has painted birds and roses in subtle chalky whites, entwining throughout Christ and imbuing an unexpected beauty to this usually solemn image.

Lenkiewicz has reinterpreted Rembrandt’s, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulpwith gelatinous forms and deep-sea colours. There are coral-like undersea growths dispersed throughout the painting, rotating around the figures. 


A notable painting on display will be Azazel, based on Rembrandt’s 1640 self-portrait. Azazel is a powerful, yet unmistakably unnerving piece – painted in a warm, fiery palette, this too resonates a deep-sea atmosphere.

Throughout the exhibition, Lenkiewicz creates an oeuvre of an undersea aquarium of historical icons encrusted with the seas natural abrasions. As Jules Verne once described the Nautilus, The School of Nightcould also be described as “a masterpiece containing masterpieces.”


The Saatchi Gallery exhibition brings together a remarkable experience. The exhibition, The School of Night, stands on the precipice of a fresh expanse in contemporary painting calling to new halls of ivy in art today.

Monumental works and exquisite small paintings are hung side by side from the expansive to the intimate.


To visit the Saatchi Gallery website please click on the following link:

November 13, 2018