Spanning five decades, Michael Leonard’s first London exhibition in 15 years (and the first retrospective) will feature rarely seen examples of his commercial work from the 1960s and early paintings from the '70s, alongside portraits and nudes from the '80s onwards.
Also on show at the Coningsby Gallery, this October, will be still lives and line drawings, showcasing the range and versatility of one of Britain’s most talented artists.
Born in 1933, Leonard studied Commercial Design and Illustration at London’s Saint Martin’s School of Art from 1954 to 1957 and spent the next few years working as a freelance illustrator, producing artwork for books, magazines and advertising, before finding his voice as a painter and getting his first solo exhibition in 1974.
His early paintings, mainly portraits of friends and family, tended to be formal, sober and low key, a clear contrast to his commercial work. Over time, his work became more animated and colourful and in 1985 he was commissioned to paint the portrait of HRH Queen Elizabeth II which now hangs at the National Portrait Gallery.
The nude, and especially the male nude, has been a recurring theme in Leonard’s work, with his models often on the move or in a state of transition, dressing or undressing. Almost all his nude paintings are based on pencil drawings which are not only preparatory studies but works of art themselves, many of which are on display as part of the exhibition.
Michael Leonard is at Coningsby Gallery, 30 Tottenham Street, London W1T 4RJ, from 8 to 27 October 2018. Closed Sundays. Find out more: coningsbygallery.com.