Leman, Martin (1934 – )
Martin Leman was born in 1934 in London. He attended Art school in Worthing which was followed by National Service in Egypt after which he studied at The Central School of Art and Design Holborn. For several years he worked as a graphic designer and taught at Hornsey College of Art , London College of Printing, St.Martin̛̛s School of Art and Medway College of Art. His first book of paintings was published in 1979 ̛̛Comic & Curious Cats̛̛ with text by Angela Carter and he then became a full time painter. Since then he has had a further 28 books published as well as 25 one man shows and numerous mixed exhibitions.
He was elected a member of The Royal Society of British Artists in 2007.
Martin started painting in 1969 and had his first one man show in London in 1971.His work quickly acquired an international reputation through the publication of many books of his cat paintings which appeared regularly throughout the 1980s and 90s.Sir Roy Strong in a foreword to one of Martin̛̛s books wrote ” I can think of few other contempory painters who are able so powerfully to distil the essence of cat on to canvas or paper”. Martin̛̛s work of this period has been compared to the portraiture of Tudor times and to Henri Rousseau with their abstract compilations of pattern shape and colour.
Another of Martin̛̛s favorite subjects for paintings are his frank, fluent and enigmatic portraits of women which bring to mind the sturdy curvaceous studies by the French painter Camille Bombois. As with cats the paintings have an icon like quality and were greatly influenced by the Hollywood stars of the 40s and 50s, one of Martins enthusiasms being for the cinema.
Now working on a fresh choice of subject matter Martin is exploring the possibilities of landscape. Himself a keen gardener he is drawn to the exciting and mysterious shapes of formal topiary gardens as well as the wild spaces of the imagination.
The most recent book to be published of his work is ̛̛Martin Leman, A World of His Own̛ by Sansom & Company.
His wife Jill is also an artist and they live and work in Islington, London.