Like Kipling, Lincoln Seligman’s approach to life is philosophical

Like Kipling, Lincoln Seligman’s approach to life is philosophical

By Antonia Filmer | 5 September, 2015
Seligman had a fascination for India and turbans.

Lincoln Seligman has found Rudyard Kipling’s lines “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same” helpful in life. Like Kipling his approach to life is philosophical. Kipling was his mother’s godfather and Seligman’s childhood was infused with Just So Stories and The Jungle Book. In addition his paternal grandmother, Hilda Macdowell was a painter living in the Indian Himalayas. All this might explain his attraction to India and turbans, a favourite subject in his paintings. 

In the 1970’s, for an Oxford law graduate painting was not considered a suitable career- — someone with an academic qualification was supposed to earn a “proper living”. Seligman duly began a career as a shipping lawyer, painting only at the weekends. After six boring years, he had amassed enough paintings for an exhibition, which produced enough money to abandon the City .

His first commission, for Hong Kong Land, was enormous, a free hand mural of 25,000 square feet of mythical architecture, next to the Mandarin Hotel in Hong Kong. This took four months to complete and since then Seligman has enjoyed a devoted international following, not only for his pictures but for his steel and glass installations for the atrium spaces of international institutions, airports  and hotels. 

After consulting a Feng Shui expert for the site, he made a perfect maquette of the  proposed suspended sculpture in his airy London studio and this is replicated to scale in Hong Kong, China or elsewhere. He makes routine supervisory visits during fabrication and he is always ‘hands on’ during the installation process. 

Seligman is fascinated by the architecture of the stepwells of Rajasthan, that possibly inspired the impossible constructions of Dutch graphic artist MC Escher. He is planning a painting sojourn to Chand Baori and to Palitana in Gujurat in January 2017 to paint a stepwell and temple series. 

In 2007, Seligman collaborated with  Standard Chartered Bank and the Royal Academy, to exhibit his paintings for the charity Seeing Is Believing to benefit people with blindness and poor vision in India who cannot afford decent eye-care. In one week 100 paintings were sold, raising £5,00,000.

Seligman’s humour is mischievous and his interests varied, he is silver-haired and silver-tongued. He is eloquent about everything from politics to chocolate, his godfather was Edward Heath, the late British Prime Minister, who may have stimulated his young political instincts, and his sweet tooth compels him eat four squares of good dark chocolate every day. During our conversation he suddenly remembers part of his inheritance from his grandfather, Julian Marks, a co- founder of the Financial Times, who was injured in WW1 and returned to Sussex where he was Kipling›s neighbour. From a small leather portfolio we unfold mesmerising letters between the two men. 

Seligman and his glamorous wife Patricia, an artist and print expert, commute the perfect triangle, from their bosky west London house, to a hut on the River Test for fishing, to a latter day cottage orné in Gloucestershire to escape from London. By way of explanation of the distances, Seligman offers “Maximum slepping and maximum inconvenience”.

Seligman is fascinated by the architecture of the stepwells of Rajasthan, that possibly inspired the impossible constructions of Dutch graphic artist MC Escher. He is planning a painting sojourn to Chand Baori and to Palitana in Gujurat in January 2017 to paint a stepwell and temple series. He says he has to produce a certain number of paintings every year otherwise his children and friends think he is on permanent and expensive holidays.

His latest exhibition, opens on 14 September at the ‘Showroom ‘Gallery, in West London, unusually comprises his works on paper, an illustrated travel journal of his recent exploits around Rajasthan, Sri Lanka, Europe, USA and Kenya. There are the famous turbans, horses, fishermen and explorations of the female form. The gallery have waived their commission fees and so the paintings are particularly 
good value. 

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