I’m working on leaving: Studio Lenca Solo Exhibition

Curator: Jeeeun Hong

7.15 - 8.24, 2022

Seoul

 
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Tang Contemporary Art is holding the first solo exhibition of STUDIO LENCA (José Campos) in Asia titled “I’m working on leaving”. In the exhibition, the artist will introduce a universal theme of alienation and identity exploring violent discourse, human identity and self-image in the past and present of the colonial era from his own fresh experiences through more than 30 representative works of the artist including ‘Big figures’, ’Moving in landscape’, and ‘Vessels’ Series. 

 

Born in El Salvador, the artist has lived as a stranger in an environment where he could not belong to any group easily with a name tag of a refugee since he left home during the violent civil war in the 1980s, and he has expressed the images of his experiences in rich color with the sensibility and delicate touch unique to the artist.  

 

The exhibition begins with a preparation for a journey for survival and searching for oneself with ‘Moving in landscape’. Series showing a truckload of refugees leaving for a new life. The figures in the artworks who are staring forward wearing floppy hats of peculiar colors could be the artist himself and also the portraits of contemporary man living in various kinds of discrimination due to culture, society, region, etc. The facial expression of a man with calm and faint smile represents the heart of immigrants and underprivileged people who are living in the contemporary era in a delicate and beautiful manner being contrasted with the fragile personal experiences of the artist. 

 

The objects which comprise the inner world of the artist are expressed metaphorically in the artworks including the image of a bag ready to leave any time, the form of a bird that will lead us to a new place, a stable jar which can be seen easily in the hometown of the artist, etc. The plain touch of the brush of the artist and the rich color reveal himself frankly on the screen and the artist comes to face the inner and outer world with a new viewpoint moving a step forward from the experience of conflicting as a second-class citizen. The symbolic objects and characters are overlapped on one screen and encourage candid and interesting conversation shuttling between tension and relaxation by the soft touch of brush and the lines drawn boldly. 

 

“You can fill yourself confidence and stability by seeing a person like you in an artwork.”  

- José Campos -

 

STUDIO LENCA received a master’s degree in art in 2019 at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is working by the name of ‘STUDIO LENCA’, a combined word of ‘Studio’, which refers to an experimental space and an ever-changing place, and ‘Lenca’, which means the ancestors in his home of El Salvador, introducing a sensuous world of artworks.  

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I’m working on leaving

I’m working on leaving

Oil and acrylic on canvas 170 x 200 cm 2022

Together

Together

Oil and acrylic on canvas 93 x 114 cm 2022

Soaring

Soaring

Oil and acrylic on canvas 200 x 200 cm 2021

Green vessel

Green vessel

Oil and acrylic on canvas 105 x 93 cm 2022

Let’s sit in the garden

Let’s sit in the garden

Oil and acrylic on canvas 93 x 114 cm 2022

Waiting at the station

Waiting at the station

Oil and acrylic on canvas 93 x 114 cm 2022

April 2

April 2

Oil and acrylic on canvas 107 x 94 cm 2022

Peace birds

Peace birds

Oil and acrylic on canvas 160 x 200 cm 2022

American bird

American bird

Oil and acrylic on canvas 152 x 118 cm 2022

La Paz

La Paz

Oil and acrylic on canvas 93 x 114 cm 2022

A lemon in the garden

A lemon in the garden

Oil and acrylic on canvas 200 x 200 cm 2021

Santiago

Santiago

Oil and acrylic on canvas 70 x 70 cm 2022

Luis

Luis

Oil and acrylic on canvas 70 x 70 cm 2022

We have you

We have you

Oil and acrylic on canvas 114 x 93 cm 2022

We have you 2

We have you 2

Oil and acrylic on canvas 114 x 93 cm 2022

Stay out of the sun while you wait

Stay out of the sun while you wait

Oil and acrylic on canvas 93 x 114 cm 2022

Lavender boys

Lavender boys

Oil and acrylic on canvas 93 x 114 cm 2022

Sitting with eucalyptus

Sitting with eucalyptus

Oil and acrylic on canvas 114 x 93 cm 2022

Sitting with eucalyptus

Sitting with eucalyptus

Oil and acrylic on canvas 114 x 93 cm 2022

Blue leaves

Blue leaves

Oil and acrylic on canvas 200 x 200 cm 2021

Have a seat

Have a seat

Oil and acrylic on canvas 93 x 114 cm 2022

April

April

Oil and acrylic on canvas 148 x 122 cm 2022

Moving quickly

Moving quickly

Oil and acrylic on canvas 93 x 114 cm 2022

Let’s go

Let’s go

Oil and acrylic on canvas 93 x 114 cm 2022

Thriving in a difficult situation

Thriving in a difficult situation

Oil and acrylic on canvas 114 x 93 cm 2022

Quilt

Quilt

Oil and acrylic on canvas 173 x 200 cm 2022

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

Oil and acrylic on canvas 200 x 200 cm 2021

Ancient bird

Ancient bird

Oil and acrylic on canvas 140 x 200 cm 2022

Help me with my bags

Help me with my bags

Oil and acrylic on canvas 200 x 125 cm 2022

We grow

We grow

Oil and acrylic on canvas 150 x 119 cm 2022

Hugo

Hugo

Oil and acrylic on canvas 69 x 50 cm 2022

Plantains for breakfast

Plantains for breakfast

Oil and acrylic on canvas 200 x 200 cm 2022

 
Artist
jose.jpg

Studio Lenca

b. 1986 La Paz, El Salvador

Studio Lenca (José Campos) fled his native El Salvador during the violent civil war in the 1980s. The war claimed the lives of over 80,000 Salvadoreños and displaced much of the population. José travelled to the US by land with his mother and grew up as an undocumented illegal immigrant. 

 

Eventually settling in the UK, José received a Masters from Goldsmiths University of London in 2019. His work is collected and exhibited globally and was recently acquired by the MER Foundation.

 

His work is focuses on ideas surrounding difference, knowledge and visibility. José Campos works under the name of ‘Studio Lenca’ as the language of ‘studio’ refers to a space for experimentation and a place that is constantly shifting. Lenca refers to the ancestors of his native El Salvador.

 

His colourful paintings depict Salvadoran figures adorned with costume and ornament that playfully explore masculinity, the colonial past of the country and its current violent discourse. The hats and costumes allude to the folkloric traditions of Los Historiantes. MS-13 markings and 18th street tattoos are absent, instead whimsical imagery and bold colours portray a softer more vulnerable experience.

 

The figures in Studio Lenca’s work embody vignettes of the artist’s formative years, escaping the civil war and reckoning with his reality in a hostile environment.   

 

The navigation of identity within Studio Lenca’s work sits in parallel with that of El Salvador and it’s neighbouring countries. Riotous layers of paint, flora, fauna, logos and artefacts represent untold stories and silenced voices. The painful legacy of colonialism, mass immigration and more recent cultural imperialism is writ large. Studio Lenca shares a maelstrom of unresolved narratives; himself and his culture displaced. 

 

‘I’m working on leaving’ explores universal themes of dislocation and alienation from the lived experience of the artist.