“Thomas Campbell: Ampersand” Embodies the Quirky Nature of the Gourd Plant

Artsy Editorial
Jun 20, 2014 3:07PM

California-based artist Thomas Campbell has brought a bit of the breezy aura of the West Coast to New York with his first solo exhibition at Joshua Liner Gallery. “Ampersand” features the artist’s whimsical paintings, sculptures, bronzes, hand-sewn works inspired by his travels around the world, and...gourds.

“I feel there is a natural correlation between what I do and what I draw...[my drawings have] similar lines to the structure of gourds,” Campbell has said. “I think a lot of my work celebrates life and the strange existence of this funny plant on this strange and surreal planet. Gourds embody that weird mystery, naturally.” The plant, which includes numerous species and subspecies, not only sparks his creations, but also stars in them. In Yep (2014), small painted gourds cling to the bottom of the panels like barnacles on rocks. Similarly, in Fauna no. 3 (2014), a painted gourd triumphantly rises from a bronze stand, and in Snake (2014), sculpted bronze twists in a familiar gourd-like shape.  

Along with his paintings and sculptures, Campbell is known for his sewn works—brightly colored, quilts constructed from combinations of paper, acrylic, packaging envelopes, thread, and rice bags. With these items, Campbell creates a bursting patchwork pinwheel, in Large Flower 1 (2013), and a colorful triangular display in Larger Quilt no. 4 (2013).

In addition to being an artist, Campbell is a filmmaker, skateboarder, surfer, and photographer. He emerged in the 1990s with the Beautiful Losers—a collective including artists such as Shepard Fairey, Harmony Korine, and Barry McGee, which was inspired by D.I.Y. themes in street art culture, skateboarding, and underground music. His diverse oeuvre, gourds et al, traces back to these roots, and the collective’s playful spirit of creativity and innovation.

Thomas Campbell: Ampersand” is on view at Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, from June 12th–July 12th, 2014.

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