EXPO CHGO, Chicago, 2022: Tomo Campbell | Alida Cervantes

8 April - 12 May 2022 

For EXPO Chicago 2022, Cob are pleased to exhibit a duo presentation of works by British artist Tomo Campbell and Mexican artist Alida Cervantes. These artists are compared for their approaches to figurative abstraction, as well as their application, adaptation and subversion of art historical source material such as the Rococo and Mexican Casta painting, respectively.

The stand features a new large scale diptych from Tomo Campbell alongside a selection mixed media works on industrial raw materials such as aluminium and cardboard by Alida Cervantes.

British artist Tomo Campbell’s large-scale works in oil combine an immersion in tradition with a subversive approach to convention. His abstracted depictions of ‘traditional’ subjects – like hunts, parades and explorers – take the form of layered arrangements of complementary colours, reminiscent of the Rococo and medieval tapestry as well as classical sculpture and painting. Balancing activity and stasis, confidence and doubt, they occupy a fertile space somewhere between knowledge and uncertainty, their multiple focal points keeping the eye in constant motion.

The city of Tijuana provides the springboard into a painterly investigation of the actions, relationships and perceptions of Mexico’s cross-cultural and multi-ethnic society. Cervantes’ work explores the intricacy and intimacy of power using painterly devises to create works of semi-narrative that address age- old dynamics of dominance and submission, an uncomfortable yet inescapable part of human nature. Thus, Cervantes’ paintings adopt a strongly Mexican cultural discourse, as they are implicated within wider narratives of colonial and post-colonial representation. Images of secrecy and intrigue, transgression and subversion, as they exist in the artist’s imagination become sites for the enactment of momentary impulses and sexualised desires. The collision of Catholic, indigenous, and African religious aspects is apparent through expressions of sin, guilt and sacrifice, as they might have been performed in some fantastical place. Cervantes paintings playfully attempt to re-root individuals in an alternative reality, fragmentary characters are imbued with meaningful agency as they revolt against a grand narrative.