Spotlight

Spotlight Contemporary Artist Studio Lenca

Championed by Charlie Siddick
The Wick - Ni de alla nu de aqui 2022, courtesy of Studio Lenca
Above  Ni de alla nu de aqui 2022, courtesy of Studio Lenca
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The Wick - Portrait of Studio Lenca in Studio, courtesy of Studio Lenca
Above  Portrait of Studio Lenca in Studio, courtesy of Studio Lenca
Interview
Studio Lenca
01 February 2023
Interview
Studio Lenca
01 February 2023
Charlie Siddick founded Purslane in 2020 to accommodate a new way of selling art that helps redirects profits to philanthropic causes, while actively supporting and promoting young artists at the start of their careers.

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.
Charlie Siddick says: “I was blown away by the response and interest in his work and ended up visiting his studio in Margate to collect the piece. We ended up having a long and really interesting conversation and I knew it would be wonderful to work on a solo exhibition with him at Soho Revue [Siddick also joined the Soho Revue team as curator and artist liaison in 2022]. The exhibition in November was a huge success, we were blown away by how many people visited, and hearing their stories about how Jose’s work resonated with them.”

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

The Wick - Portrait of Charlie Siddick, courtesy of Charlie Siddick

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.

“Jose is one of the kindest and most humble people I’ve ever met – a true joy to work with.”

Place of Birth

La Paz, El Salvador.

Education

Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, London Contemporary Dance School, and Goldsmiths, University of London.

Awards, Accolades

Fountainhead residency in Miami.

Recent exhibitions

‘Flock’ solo exhibition at Ilwoo Foundation and ‘Chisme’ at Parrish Art Museum, New York.

Spiritual guides, Mentors

My mother.

Advice

If you’re an artist, make art.


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