9 Grosvenor Place, London SW1X 7SH, UK
Algebra: The Reunion of Broken Parts was a solo exhibition of the work of contemporary British artist Wolfe von Lenkiewicz. The art of von Lenkiewicz can be perceived as a solemn exercise in algebra. Writing in the 11th century, the Islamic polymath Omar Khayyam described the process of algebra as “the reunion of broken parts,” and it is this concept of mathematics that most closely reflects the artist’s painting practice.
An algebraic equation makes use of the abstractions “x” and “y” to signify the variables of a formula. In von Lenkiewicz’s work, the icons of Art History replace the formula, and his works seek out the visual or latent motifs that might take the place of “x” and “y.” Just as 8 can be factored into 1 x 8 or 2 x 4, so can a more complicated idea like the work of Leonardo da Vinci be broken down into numerous possible equations, such as the influence of his master Verrocchio multiplied by the symmetry of Piero della Francesca, as well as the influence of the Catholic church, scientific discoveries and a myriad of other potential variables that have each contributed to the final whole.
The factor is an equivalent of the original, an “un-multiplied” version of the number. Lenkiewicz is exploring the notion that it is possible to un-multiply an artwork, to whittle an aesthetic object down to its essential prime numbers.