Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Artist Leroy Campbell

Simply put, Leroy Campbell is a quintessential artist. His work, created in a variety of mixed media and reflective of the African-American experience, evokes an unexpected range of emotions. He becomes a griot, telling stories of hard work, dignity, love and caring: stories which are at times haunting and painful, yet hopeful and inspiring, and bring to life folks who are proud, god-fearing and self-reliant.

He is best known for his silhouetted elongated figures with long necks. He paints them without eyes or noses; with mouths only, which he says leaves it up to viewers’ interpretation. His work embodies a universal message yet remains an extension of his southern roots. Campbell, born in Charleston, South Carolina, a city particularly rich in African-American history, culture and traditions, is a self-taught artist who began the serious pursuit of his craft in 1984 while living in New York City. As he has grown, so has the intensity of his artistic expression. Artistically, he captures the spirit and flavor of African-American life in the south by employing his rich multi-media collage techniques including a mixed-media of vintage clothing, quilted fabrics, burlap, needles, thread, elements of southern terrain, newspaper and the skillful use of color.

His most recent series “The Newspaper Series” features news print as its most dominant feature. His use of newspaper signifies more than one denotation. On one hand, it represents the Gullah rituals of witchcraft to who by papering the walls of their houses with news print protected them against and rid of curses and dangerous spirits. On the other hand, the newspaper serves as a time capsule, since upon a closer glance the newspaper articles triumphantly detail the palpable, unwavering strength and perseverance of people of African ancestry from slavery to present day.

His newest works interpret present day by his characterization of people painted blue. The color blue emanates an energy that allows us to look beyond and increase our perspective outward. It contains a cool vibration that is helpful to communication. It counteracts chaos or agitation, and provides protection, health, confidence and strength.

I am an artist who believes that art can influence, inspire, and encourage dialogue. I believe art heals, breaks down stereotypes and advocates diversity. My new works proclaim a spirit of universality that will hopefully open the lines of easy communication and promote peace.”– Leroy Campbell

Campbell's artwork is sold to contemporary galleries and collectors internationally. His work is displayed in corporations, universities and private collections. Campbell’s distinctive art has been seen on hit television shows "Martin", "Fresh Prince of Bel Air", "Living Single", "The Jamie Foxx Show", "The Cosby Show", "In the Heat of the Night", and in feature productions like "The First Wives Club" and others.

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