Martin Leman’s cat paintings have earned him much recognition as a contemporary British artist, as well as worldwide, in particular in the USA and Japan. His cat images have been published in no less than twenty books, since his first in 1979, 'Comic & Curious Cats', with text by Angela Carter. Alongside numerous exhibitions in London and Cornwall, followers of his work continue to enjoy his naïve style of painting, and in particular his portrayal of cats in charming settings.
This exhibition at Curwen Gallery demonstrates the universal likeability of these works; cats full of character yet with their typical feline aloofness, set amongst plush homely interiors, or posed on top of decorative trinket boxes. Others sit in front of an outdoors backdrop, frequently of St Ives; a location with which Martin Leman has much association and uses often as a setting in his paintings.
Another reoccurring motif in his works are that of a small round ball placed near the cat’s feet; whether it is being guarded, or about to be pounced upon, it is not always clear. There is a sense of humour to his works, and sometimes a surreal edge. Cat lovers will adore this exhibition, and even non-cat lovers should find it an enchanting and at times delightfully eccentric collection of works.
Martin is a member of the Royal Society of British Artists and the Royal Watercolour Society, and a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. Born in London in 1934, he studied at Worthing School of Art and then Central School of Art in London. After working for a time in publishing as a designer and illustrator, he took up painting full time in the early 1960’s as by then his paintings of cats were creating huge success.
This is his first solo exhibition at Curwen Gallery, following his inclusion in our shortlisted artists exhibition for the Curwen Gallery Prize for Figurative Painting in 2014.