Exhibit Title
Israel Campos: Cleansing of the Sentinels
Exhibit Description
Israel Campos is a Los Angeles-based, queer, Chicano artist who creates prints and paintings that merge pre-Columbian iconographies with contemporary American culture. In Cleansing of the Sentinels, he presents five new large-scale paintings of anthropomorphized palm trees being subsumed by fire and water -- a meditation on the impacts of climate change on human and non-human life. Campos' work builds from the Chicano/o art movement that emerged, among Mexican-Americans in the late 1960s, to resist assimilation, claim identity, and express the complexity of being caught between two cultures. He integrates surrealist strategies into his compositions, while simultaneously pulling visual and material inspiration from Mesoamerican codices. Like the ancient books he references, Campos paints on amate, a paper native to Mexico that is made from wild fig tree bark. His simplified forms, embrace of pictorial flatness, and use of symbols and glyphs point to his conscious rejection of Eurocentric artistic traditions. He merges these indigenous aesthetics with contemporary stylistic signifiers typical of the Chicano/a community where he was born and raised, in South Central L.A.: rolled bandanas tied across the forehead, gold hoop earrings, crucifix necklaces, and even an homage to the history of Mexican revolutionaries. Tattoos cleverly nod to imagery found in the Codex Borgia, while "Califa" refers to the Chicano name for the state of California. In Cleansing of the Sentinels, Campos mobilizes his art to address urgent environmental concerns —- a crisis that has been particularly visible in Los Angeles, where raging wildfires and destructive flash flooding disproportionately impact the Latino community due to their large presence in the agricultural sector. However, this body of work challenges us to view fire as a cleansing force. In the artist's own words, "In the Mesoamerican tradition, chaos is viewed as an opportunity for regeneration. Chaos brings forth metamorphosis which can allow life to be renewed. This is a moment to reflect on how we can be better stewards of the land and honor the people who lived here before us."
Company / Organization
2nd Story
Venue Description
2nd Story is a curatorial space for creative risk-taking, artistic collaboration, and innovative thinking within the visual arts. We empower artists to create new work that stretches the conceptual and formal boundaries of their practice, and we present exhibitions, talks, and educational programs that contribute to the cultural vitality of Lexington and beyond. We are committed to a nimble organizational infrastructure that is responsive to artists who are exploring new ideas and evolving processes, and to a rigorous curatorial platform that situates artists' work within current and art historical dialogues.
522 West Short Street
Hours of Operation
Tuesday - Friday: 1 to 5 pm Alternative hours, anytime: call 608.334.4049 to pop in
Contact Name
Leah Kolb
Galleries and Museums participating in the 2021 LexArts HOP.