JERZY Lesko had a problem. He and his wife, Sandra, had moved from a spacious, open-plan house in Sydney into a conventional home. 'I was surrounded by bare walls,' said the Polish-born Australian refurbisher of ageing buildings. 'Everywhere I looked there were blank white spaces.' The solution; become an artist. He learned to paint pictures, first to add bits of colour to his home, then, more seriously, as a composer of images. Today his first Hong Kong exhibition opens, following five sell-out shows in Sydney since his first show three years ago. 'Don't ask me how I do it,' said the blunt-talking construction contractor, now working in Hong Kong for a major building company that renovates apartment and office blocks. 'I don't intellectualise about it. I start off with a blank piece of wood or square of canvas and the images are born.' The results are startling, dramatic pieces of art, magical compositions. A few months after he began splattering oil paint on canvas, he took his vivid collection to Graphic Arts Gallery in Sydney to be framed. He wanted to cover those bare walls. Instead of just framing the collection, the gallery director enthusiastically arranged a one-man exhibition. The works of the unknown amateur were a sensation. 'I've never had a lesson,' says the artist who uses cement scrapers, knives and fingers to apply the paint because he admits he has never learned to hold a brush. He doesn't intend to go to art school. He likes the results he achieves with his natural, unanticipated talent. Art dealers have advised him to keep on the way he is. That is an unexpected path. Born in a refugee camp in Germany to Polish parents, he was taken to Australia at the age of four and has worked most of his life in the building industry. Art was something he never thought about until confronted with those bare walls in a new house. When he began his first creation, he had no idea what he was doing. The result was a stunning abstract Blue Lady that seems to owe something to Picasso and a lot to a worried mind. Those first pots of paints were bought for Sandra as a present. 'I thought she needed a hobby,' he said. When his wife showed little interest, he started 'mucking around'. If he was surprised by the results, his wife was amazed and his friends astonished; the artist looks what he is, a burly, hands-on construction boss. There's nothing evident here of the pale artistic intellectual. Yet, somehow, he captures both image and spirit. The portraits of their two sons are sensitive and striking. His flowers glow with life and colour. His fish would taste good on a plate. 'I stand back when I've finished a picture and ask myself where the hell did it come from,' he said. When he finishes work, he goes home to his Mid-Levels flat, has a beer and dinner, watches television and then switches into Gauguin mode and attacks the canvas. He smears the paint on with a knife, layers it frantically with his fingers, colours, design and theme coming to him subconsciously. Astoundingly, the results are stimulating and exciting. His first Hong Kong exhibition is About Trudi. She's a bemused blonde with bloodshot eyes, a figment, he says, of his imagination, a dream woman who looks troubled. The paintings go on show in the exhibition area of Dorset House, Taikoo Place, today from 6 pm. Some of the paintings on show were hung in his home. So Lesko will probably have to revert to his midnight passion to fill more blank spaces on his walls.