Spotlight Contemporary Artist Studio Lenca
In early 2022, Jose Campos, who works under the name of ‘Studio Lenca’ in honour of his ancestors from his native El Salvador, participated in one of Purslane’s online fundraisers.
Born in La Paz, El Salvador during the late 1980s, Campos had to flee the country because of a violent civil war. After travelling overland with his mother to the US, the family lived as “illegal aliens”, cleaning houses and with no fixed address. Studio Lenca now paints through the problems of his own sense of belonging to defy the narrative surrounding his Latinx community.
Siddick adds: “Although his story, having been an undocumented migrant to the US, is an experience of otherness that is amplified by his being queer, it manages to speak to a huge variety of people in different and personal ways. More than that, Jose is one of the kindest and most humble people I’ve ever met – a true joy to work with.”
Studio Lenca creates a world where Latinx people are empowered to take up space and tell their own stories. Monumental figures stare out from the canvas, holding our gaze. His paintings are self-assured, proud, courageous and visible. All the things that a young Studio Lenca couldn’t be. Poor, queer, displaced and “illegal”, his story is one of being a perpetual guest.
He says: “My paintings are charged with El Salvador’s history and my experience as an undocumented person in the USA. Painting is an assertion of power and a form of storytelling for me. I feel the works are a way of creating a community around these issues.”
He adds: “Being acquired by the Parrish Museum [in New York] means the works will be displayed for a wide audience. I hope they help the Latin community that surround the museum feel seen.”
Studio Lenca will also be sharing his stories in a solo exhibition at Ilwoo Foundation in Seoul, South Korea, before taking some time to do some research and development at the US/Mexican border.
About the champion
Disillusioned with the traditional art market, Courtauld graduate and curator Charlie Siddick founded Purslane as an online fundraising platform to shake up the status quo. In addition to exhibiting and selling the work of upcoming and emerging artists, it was designed to give artists a greater share of the profits from their work and to raise funds for different philanthropic causes. Siddick also joined the team of the Soho Revue art gallery in October 2022.