Jose Campos was born in La Paz, El Salvador and like many had to flee the country during its violent civil war during the late 1980s. He travelled to the US by land, illegally with his mother and grew up in the gaze of a strictly conservative administration – an ‘illegal alien’.
Studio Lenca is focused on ideas surrounding difference, knowledge and visibility. He works with performance, video, painting and sculpture. Studio Lenca’s process starts with personal memories and is underpinned by social activism and different forms of praxis.
The Dreamers is a new series of work produced by Studio Lenca aka Jose Campos for Foundry Downtown. The exhibition presents a new experimental series of paintings which explore the lived experience of displacement.
During a residency in Dubai, Studio Lenca explored the souqs of Bur Dubai and Deira. Through observations, a visual language of displacement and migration resonated with the artist. Suitcase stalls, visa agencies and ticket offices jostle alongside home comfort food and barbershops. These instruments of place making and memory sat in parallel with the Latinx neighbourhood of La Mission in San Francisco where the artist spent much of his formative years. Many of the materials and visual symbols within the work are collected from these environments.
Studio Lenca paintings tell an autobiographical story which navigates borders and identities destroyed, redrawn and erased through colonisation and war. The portraits depict the artist and his community proudly wearing hats and vibrant colours in noble defiance of the ‘western’ discourse around migration.