Chris Elvidge, Mr Porter, November 7, 2017

The artist paints a picture of how his style develops alongside his work

Mr Tomo Campbell talks like he paints. Words tumble out at the speed of thought. Half-finished sentences melt into one another. His hands move constantly, as if trying to lend shape to ideas too abstract for words alone. It makes for an amusingly off-beat conversation; you never quite know what he’s going to say next, and suspect that neither does he. When translated to canvas, though, that same nervous energy makes for strikingly beautiful art.
“I never have a preconceived idea of what I’m going to do,” says Mr Campbell in his east London studio. “The possibility of a painting can only happen in the moment. Ideas change depending on my mood, on the time of day, on what else is in the room.” That’s not to suggest, however, that his paintings are entirely spontaneous. Look beyond the feverish brushstrokes and evidence of a formal artistic education begins to emerge. Littering the walls and floor of his studio are black-and-white scans of 15th-century tapestries, sketches by Flemish master Mr Peter Paul Rubens and paintings by little-known Victorian artist Mr Albert Joseph Moore. These classical influences are designed to reveal themselves over time, almost like a Magic Eye, Mr Campbell says: “The more you look, the more you can see.”