The astounding John Zehentner
For several years we have been visiting the art exhibition at Southport that always has some interesting art and sculpture by various talented local people. There is quite variety and by and large a much higher standard than you’d expect for a free entrance gallery in a seaside resort. Some of the pieces over the years have been quite large and challenging. I doubt that anyone who has seen it will ever forget the dimly lit cavern of Buddhist heads
and the seriously tragic and truly emotionally moving reality it signifies. There have been unusual lightshows and audience paticipation art, a variety of scuptural works in various mediums as well as more traditional oil and acrylic paintings. Amongst the paintings an artist that always stood out, to the point that we’d go in saying, “I wonder if he’s got a new one up” was the art of local artist John Zehentner.
Last week we went to see the art exhibition in its new home round the corner from where it used to be. The block of units is mostly empty and the owners appear to be allowing this group to use the units that are not sold but this means they do have to move as a unit is sold. We were pleased to find five John Zehenter paintings on display that we haven’t seen before addressing the current theme of the exhibition which is ‘Metamorphosis’. One is an old piece based on Smithfield Meat Market in London where John Zehentner comes from (London that is, not the meat market!). This one is an unusual combination of painting and sculpture with the frame hanging on a meat hook that actually comes from
Smithfield Meat Market. Another painting shows a single figure transformed through the mediums of cubism, impressionism and realism from top to bottom.
Onthe way out I remarked to the lady on the door that we particularly like John Zehentner’s work and she pointedto a chap nearby and said, “Actually, this is Mr. Zehentner”. He explained the thinking behind each picture in quite an understated way and I am pretty sure he has no real idea yet how good he is. Given the attitude of many people to art, like the well-known cliche ‘I don’t know much about art but I know what I like’, it is not hard for a artist to feel that their work is not appreciated. This is especially so when the best of artists like John Zehentner are their own harshest critic and the standard they aspire to is one that they will probably never reach. Still, as you can see from the couple of images included here, this is hardly the work of a novice. This is an artist who has honed his skills and has real vision. It is also not the work of an
artist who only knows how to do one particular style or subject. One of the fascinating aspects of John Zehentner’s art is the range of expression coupled with a human warmth and a sense of humour. But of course you’ll need to see larger versions of his work than these small images to appreciate the style and technique properly.
It was fabulous to be able to discuss the art directly with him and we are going to look at the possibility of making his art available in print form since practically none of it is available as prints or posters at present. Watch this space and check out our updates page at our main site for developments in this regards.