Name: Vincent Campos
Born: Española, NM
Lives and works: El Rito, NM
Vincent Campos injects a sense of whimsy and strangeness into a form that is often serious and pious. Retablos, known as lámina in Mexico, depict saints or other Catholic iconography on a tablet of wood or tin, meant to be placed behind a church’s altar. Campos’s retablos stick to this script, representing saints and other Catholic imagery, but his figures have odd or humorous details: a caricatured face, a bag of Wonder Bread. He exaggerates facial features and emotional expressions, as with his depiction of La Llorona, the weeping woman of Southwestern folklore, a departure from the strictly Catholic archetypes. Campos’s La Llorona stands in a lake of her own tears, alone and bereft in a cartoonish, haunted forest.
Campos, who hails from El Rito, collects his materials throughout northern New Mexico to create all his own pigments. He cultivates the bright green tierra verde from the Santa Ana Pueblo and gathers unusual and bright yellows and reds along the drive to Los Alamos. To create his own varnish for the wood boards, he uses grain alcohols mixed with sap from piñon trees. In this way, the artist writes, his “process keeps [him] spiritually tied to Santeros of the past while continuing the tradition for future generations.” Campos is a multifaceted artist, showing original retablos with a more traditional approach at Santa Fe’s Spanish Market, while simultaneously developing and showing nontraditional interpretations of the form.
Campos’s work is on view in GenNext: Future So Bright (May 4, 2018-March 29, 2019) at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Santa Fe.