A solo exhibition by Demosthenes Campos
Trapped in the Undergrowth
Demosthenes Campos’ recent works in “Undergrowth” present mixed media pieces simulating gardens and landscapes with the use of household objects. As Campos explores his process and materials further, he continues to draw inspiration from nature, pushing himself to recreate abstracted dreamscapes replete with plant forms. Digging deep into his artistic foundations, he creates bushes, thickets and copses, managing to create pieces that breathe new life to commonplace wood scraps, scrubs, carpets, string, pegs, tags and patches.
In the exhibition, the artist invites his audience to go interactive and pore through a chest of drawers as if rummaging for treasure. In here, they will encounter lavender-blue and white Hydrangeas; Brushwood Fence with a seemingly 3D-mapped patch of grassy land and a wooden deck; Shrubbery, which, aside from its patches of wood shavings and fiber, may also be considered as a topographical map with crop circles; Lichen with its delicate buds and flowers; and Sibol (Growth) #6, with its tiny scrubby blooms on pastel planes. Scrape Nest resemble germinating pods with layers veiled by flying seedlings and streaks of paint on clear acrylic sheet. This is offset by Old Wood Texture, a gridded abstraction using the Philippine Flag’s muted colors. Along with the wear and tear brought about by what could only be imagined as scrapes with reality and neglect, this piece sets a stark reminder of what needs to be preserved and protected against man’s needless capacity for destruction.
With the vibrant greens of Forest Moss and the pure yet deadly Amanita Virosa or The Destroying Angel mushroom, however, Campos signifies that hope is where we choose to find it, promising new life on one hand and the ability to adapt on the other. Undergrowth is a glaring warning served by the artist which reminds us of the fragility of nature. Looking at Campos’ works and his skills in recreating bushes and grasslands with artificial substitutes might evoke lyrics to Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi:
“They took all the trees, put ’em in a tree museum And they charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”
While woodlands are protected by a healthy undergrowth, a habitat for various small animals and certain birds remain, teeming with life and scoring points for global ecological balance. Perhaps, as we enjoy the artworks on display, we ought to think about preserving the real things they embody as well.
Words by Kaye O’Yek