Lenworth McIntosh Goes “In the Direction of Home” @ pt.2 Gallery, Oakland

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pt.2 Gallery, Oakland // October 28, 2023 – December 02, 2023

A porch light. An easy chair in the corner. A roadway to the unknown. What is home? How do we navigate countrysides or cityscapes and conjure feelings of safety or peace? Lenworth McIntosh contemplates these ideas while wandering, In the Direction of Home, his solo show with pt.2 gallery in Oakland.

The work begins with a cloud-filled wide shot panning into intimate vignettes, dogs growling, preachers leering for attention. Inexplicable locations, states of being, or dreams, Lenworth’s “home” is an atmospheric tour de force where dense foliage or street corners provide cinematic flair. By encapsulating what he’s seen, scenes he knows well, the artist takes us on an evening stroll, where humanity reigns, places where keen instincts ebb or flow. From smaller panels or floor-to-ceiling tableaux Lenworth’s hues are so dark and muted with subjects so complex, you can almost smell the pathos in the oil. In one intimate painting where a man hugs a woman while gripping a hammer, the artist captures a rapturous blend of tension and hope, illuminating the lengths one will go to make sure others make it “home.” 

Hailing from the hills of Jamaica and currently in Los Angeles, this self-described nomad, Lenworth has lived in various towns and this exhibition reflects the maze of images encountered on his strolls, oblivious to an outsiders gaze. From the front seat of cars where a simple license plate hints at an escape, these urgent depictions showcase glory or loss including his own version of “American Gothic,” where a father stands willfully aware as a mother cradles her son to her chest.  Street lamp lit, hovering inside the familiar or the abyss, Lenworth’s work is a journey, a curated visit to street-life fare, illuminating beautiful minutiae so often missed in cars, capturing the still or strobe light poetry of the street. Every painting is a road map, each one leading to the next, culminating in the warmth of a large waiting chair.  

The artist shares his nomadic goal, “Street lamps serve as beacons, portals leading you closer to home.”

Lenworth reminds us in cinnamon-hued pigment and warm, lamp-lit glow, that home can be a memory, a mother’s hug nestled against the murky unknown, navigating a path through societal woes. By manifesting everything given, or taken away, Lenworth’s art is a compass, a survivor’s tale of everyday quests, honoring the small and important ways we save others and ourselves. Pam Ward

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