Welcoming the advent of Spring, where vivid colour and optimism shines unto our lives each year, Andrew Salgado opens the season with his online exhibition ‘In The Springtime We’ll Go Dancing’ on March 18th, with Beers London.
The anticipated collection leads us forward from the critically acclaimed ‘Strange Weather’ showcased in Autumn 2020. Moving on from the hallucinatory dreamscape, with a new founded sense of hope and aspiration for a lighter mindset and leisure filled life, that entices as a new dawn on the horizon for us and Salgado.
ArtBrowser TV takes us back to my meeting with Andrew Salgado and Beers London founder Kurt Beers, when they team up again to create and curate the imaginary world ”Strange Weather”.
Whilst we chatted away in charged spirits, I sought to explore the world depicted through Salgado’s paintings, also to further understand the journey of their artist/gallery partnership and how their collaborative success over the years will pave the way for the future.
After listening to Andrew and Kurt’s experiences of working together, my impression was reinforced, that for the artist, the entire gallery must become a greater performance piece, an experience of physically venturing through the world of Andrew’s recent artistic imagination.
Mine like many other’s experience has been akin to this. First foot through the door and you are floating above an ocean of red carpet, oranges (prevalent still life within these paintings) float a top as whimsical obstacles and anchors throughout the landscape of the show, doing so the artist subconsciously connects the viewer’s reality to the surreal world he has painted, a world steeped in art history and literary reference, depicted in the objects and talismans effectuated by brushstroke and his signature mixed media style.
It only takes a turn of the head once inside the gallery, to be struck in awe by the intensity of the vivid world of ethereal nudes; elegantly reclining within the rooms and landscapes that bream with still life, feline friends and distant moons, plucked and projected from the museum of Salgado’s art-history inspired mind. Theres a sensuality amongst even the most innocent of images, where moonlight bathes Salgado’s scenes in sensuality, revealing an acceptance towards the nature of mankind’s shadow side. Smoke, mist and shadow hides and emboldens his characters and the overall allure of his compositions.
When you allow these paintings to frame your vision, it is easy to become entranced by the variety of the medium’s textures in their omnipresence. Painted with a brightly coloured palette, Salgado’s combination creates a sensation of vibratory movement, like gazing into a mirage.
‘Strange Weather’ is an adventurous leap from the artist’s former devotion to portraiture in his earlier exhibitions. At the time of painting, 2019 leading into 2020 – the year which has closely resembles a chimera of surrealist art history (Imagine opening your curtains in the morning and seeing a scene which resembles a composite reality made in the vision of Dali, Magritte and a drop of Escher, et voila… we have 2020), we can see that the artist has ventured further into the fantastical realms of romanticism, where everything is dreamlike and not always as it first seems.
Salgado remarks himself that ‘’Given the uncertainty and confusion of this year, I just allowed myself to float into something fantastical – a land of make-believe.’’. I personally see it as Art as escapism, and at its finest; Escapism not only for the artist but for myself, all of the art critics and all other art lovers too. Strange Weather is a welcomed invitation to become lost in fantastical art and is simultaneously a wonderful ode to the master artists he has reverently paid homage to. Salgado’s new collection draws you in and suspends you in illusion, like a his favourite type of book; a magic-realist novel.
It was a breath of fresh air, for me to witness defined talent as I continue to work deeply within the art world. I also recognised my intuition after leaving the exhibition, that I believe ‘’Strange Weather’’ will stand as a pivotal collection and development in the body of Salgado’s ever mesmerising work.
I engaged with Andrew to understand their view of incredible new exhibition, their partnership and unique vision for the future.
In conversation with Andrew Salgado:
MC: It’s a pleasure to meet you in front of your new and anticipated collection ‘’Strange Weather”; How does it feel to be exhibiting again ‘in the wild’, after a chance (inspired by bizarre global circumstance) to re-imagine the themes of your body of work?
AS: I think its kind of unavoidable, this COVID question, despite the fact that I think everyone is just as sick of hearing that word and talking about it. I guess as artists we have a social responsibility to respond to global events. Right? Like there is almost an expectation that we will weigh in on these happenings. And 2020 was been ripe with fodder for artists. In my case, my show was originally titled In the Springtime We’ll go Dancing and was originally slated for May 2020. That was postponed – and then almost entirely reshaped – into the Strange Weather exhibition which opened in October 2020. There were some ideas that lingered as we headed into 2021; as time passed and things remained in stasis, these ideas again proliferated in the studio and I decided to revive that old show title. It just felt appropriate. I became somewhat overwhelmed by this ongoing barrage of negative press; every time I turned on the news or looked online, it was an avalanche of pessimism. So the show is like a fantasy escape. It’s a momentary break from reality.
My themes are somewhat related to these themes that are arising now anyhow: like alienation, isolation, time… so perhaps they just became heightened, or teased further, and reframed. So that the show can be looked at under the lens of the past year, or it can not. I think that depends on what the viewer wants to read into the works – but I tire of dismal themes and I tire of Covid. I hate the word.
MC: You mentioned that you have ‘turned a page’, even ‘closed the book’ to a past version of your artistic expression; How does ‘’Strange Weather’’ shape and symbolise the next chapter for you as an artist.
AS: I think it’s funny how sometimes I will have people sending me messages, saying, ‘oh i liked your old work much better’; which I guess is a fair opinion but its strange that people expect some artists to stay stagnant. Or become surprised when an artist grows or changes. I’m not the same person I was 4 or 5 years ago, so why shouldn’t my art reflect that? I think the change was as much a purposeful, noticeable change, as it was a causal, slow, gradual progression. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t cognizantly think about this change. I think I used the words ‘jump ship’ at the time, maybe around 2017 when the shift started. But it has been a slow and steady curve as opposed to a sharp ‘left turn’.
Working on paper has been liberating. The stakes aren’t as high, so I’m more likely to take risks. I am trying to unify portraiture with my practice again this year, that avenue of my creative process is still inside me, it just wanted to step aside for a while. I’m not sure I still feel it is as relevant as what I’m doing now. I think the art world has moved past that as a subject matter. But if I do, I don’t like this notion that I’m going ‘back’ or ‘returning’ to something. Its always forward, its always the next step. That being said, I think that body will be something of an outlet – like a creative detour. Maybe its like a musician who has a band and then the side-project. I’m not sure how to compartmentalise that and I’m not sure that I have to, anyway.
I have a lot of ideas for the next chapter in this progression. I like to surprise myself and my viewer. I need to process these works and then the next thing will be a response and a reaction to this body of work. Like every iteration, there are strengths and weaknesses in this particular body. So I need time to become a bit more objective and then re-asses what those particular strengths and weaknesses are. But I did really like how this show was very personal, but also very external to me.
I’ve been looking outward, so the next question is how to look inward and still keep the show outside of my own autobiography. I did autobiography to death, I’m not interested in that anymore. At least not in my paintings.
MC: You have a great love for reading great books, which books or prose have had a direct impact on this new collection?
AS: I like very general ideas that spring to life from what I’m reading. I think its more about… changing my thought patterns, as opposed to being directly correlational – where a painting references a scene or something. Its about filling my brain with ideas. Less about specific books, and more about the feeling or idea. Escapism. There are nods, for sure. To modern books but also lots of modern classics, like Lolita or The Magus or the idea of tripping through time, ghosts and reality, the cosmos, like Slaughterhouse V or Borges.
MC: As soon as you enter the exhibition, there is a strong sense of a story being told. What kind of story does ‘’Strange Weather’’ tell and how do the characters that you paint play a role within it?
AS: I leave clues, and its up to the viewer to draw conclusions. I think it is obviously very Romantic, very enigmatic, and seductive. There’s a macabre warmth, and a sort of vaudeville vibe. I’m not sure. I pick up on that. There’s like a rural vibe, but also a supernatural vibe. I just leave the rest to the viewer, whatever they want to see. I like this idea of creative ambivalence, I’m not sure if thats the right term. I just made that up, but its not indifference, it’s like I’m just offering story prompts and letting the rest be whatever the viewer wants. I think over-explaining work is amateurish; and I have certainly done that. I think it has taken me maturity to just put it out there and more or less walk away. I hate this idea that everything needs an explanation. Not everything needs it, not everything wants it.
MC: Your unique result in painting has been steeped with symbolism, history and drama. Would you choose your favourite painting and tell us about the references within?
AS: Oh symbolism, history, and drama. I like that. I don’t like the idea of favourites but I was very excited about “Stańyzk’s Revenge”, which is a play on the dejected jester in Jan Matejko’s famous painting. Here I’ve given him new life. He’s stripped off his clothes and is running across the rooftops. These disembodied hands are grasping. I think there’s a lot of narrative here, but I also think its fun, funny, a bit silly. It borrows from the folkloric tales of Till Ugenspiegel as well, a trickster with supernatural abilities. This idea of – as you say – history of the image, but also playing with the non-sequitur to provoke insight and meaning.
MC: Having established yourself as an artist of international recognition over a time where social media has become integral to self-promotion; What advice can you give to any aspiring artists out there on what you believe contributed to your success over the last 10 years?
I always say to young artists to work twice as hard, and worry half as much. I think its key to embrace your peers. I also think patience is crucial. It’s not all gonna happen to you overnight, and trust me, you want to take the learning curve slowly, otherwise I have seen too many strut in one door and out the other faster than a sneeze.
For more insight please watch the Strange Weather Exhibition video: