‘I’ve never walked into a museum and seen myself on the walls’


Studio Lenca paintings tell an autobiographical story which navigates borders and identities destroyed, redrawn and erased through colonisation and war. The portraits depict the artist and his community proudly wearing hats and vibrant colours in noble defiance of the ‘western’ discourse around migration.

These colourful paintings depict male Salvadoran figures adorned with costume and ornaments that playfully explore masculinity, the colonial past of Studio Lenca’s home country and the current violent discourse of Salvadoreñxs. The markings of MS-13 and 18th street are absent, instead whimsical marks and bold colours portray a softer more vulnerable experience.

‘My mother is a cleaner. When we moved to the US from El Salvador it was one of the only jobs she didn't need papers for. When I was younger I was so embarrassed to tell people that she cleaned houses. But as an adult I see that it's the noblest thing a mother could do for her children. This series is a reflection on the labour that she's endured and the deterioration of her body because of it. This "mantel" isn't painted it's scrubbed with cleaning chemicals. As an artist I reflect on my relationship to her and to labour. Because of her I am an artist.’

"Esta fregado" 2021
Kitchen "mantel" scrubbed with cleaning chemicals