London-based artist Andrew Salgado returns to New York for his solo exhibition, entitled, The Fool Makes a Joke at Midnight. This exhibition will be hosted by Beers Gallery at Thierry Goldberg on the Lower East Side, and will run from May 6 – 28.
He is one of the most promising young figurative painters at work today. Saatchi Art calls him ‘one to invest in today’; while renowned critic Edward Lucie Smith states he is a ‘dazzlingly skilful advocate [for painting]’.
Salgado made an international name for himself in the past few years by spearheading a certain bold, gestural large-scale figuration. However, he has since shirked both that classification and that style in recent years, thus challenging himself and his viewer with a new kind of figurative painting: in which the figure has become secondary to painterly flourishes including heavily worked surface textures of a highly abstract tendency, resulting in a true questioning of what ‘figurative painting’ means in the 21st century.
I had the pleasure to speak with him about his upcoming exhibition and find out more about his artistic practise.
How did you become involved in creating art?
I was always an artistic person. I was a very artistic child. I was always creating things. I think for me it was a logical growth. I was proficient in maths and sciences, and started uni in Science, but it just wasn’t for me. I thought, ‘these aren’t my people’, so I had a kind of cathartic ultimatum with myself in which I switched into Fine Arts and just went from there. I have a lot of drive and determination…or as I say “either conviction or stupidity” but I make it work for me. I then moved to London to pursue a Masters at Chelsea College. I was laughed at by my peers for being a painter (god forbid) and a figurative painter (even worse) and told to quit painting by my course director and become a performance artist. That was pretty horrible, but I’m like a dog with a bone. I think I always felt like I had something to prove. I still do. So there you have it, my art career has more to do with being a stubborn Capricorn than anything else, haha.
What elements of human nature provide particular interest for your work?
Hm. Does human nature provide the interest? I mean, just because I paint people doesn’t necessarily mean I’m most influenced by them – does it? I mean, a lot of my work is based on a conceptual set of ideas…a lot of it is about how paint plays upon the canvas, or how I portray metaphor or a certain silly object that acts as a metonym for something else. I dunno. I’m trying to learn how to talk less about my work, because I want the works to exist with an aura of mystery. But a lot of it is about these ideas that run through my head that I feel an obsessive desire to explore through paint. And yes, the figure is front and centre, but he’s also surrounded by cacophonous noise. I think if I were just interested in human nature the paintings would be a lot more straightforward. “Here’s a face” … that kind of thing. I mean, I did an entire body of work in 2015 called This is Not the Way to Disneyland that was about the horrors of 5 men who roamed California in the 1980s who raped, tortured, and murdered young boys. But that’s not to say I’m interested in all the horrors of human nature.
I guess I’m curious about tangential ideas that are related to human nature, but run deeper and more conceptual than that. The new show is about masks, and each show is like a game I play with myself to challenge and surprise myself, and my viewer. The work has changed markedly from a few years back, and for me there is a profound reward in that personal growth, even if it confuses people.
Your paintings often seem to omit a ‘subversive energy’, would you agree with this reading?
Yes. But I think that’s pretty evident. We had a small viewing of the works for the new exhibition, The Fool…, and the overwhelming commentary was that the works are so ‘fun and happy and crazy’, and I’ll agree: they are – but they house a real sober, somber, and pensive subject. This time, its all men, and there are a number of sad clowns as this sort of clichéd avatar for the tortured painter. I think there’s a lot of profound pain in this show, masked by confetti, but then that’s perfectly in line with the theme I’m presenting.
To what extent have you explored further abstraction in your recent work?
The figure is pushed back, yet again, the furthest he’s ever been. There is so much noise and chaos around the figure that he’s almost invisible. I wanted the figures to appear as though behind a veil, or screen, or maddening noise. The whole show is meant to be a visual overload – I wanted the viewer to be confronted by their own uncertainty on how to actually view these works. I pushed myself to achieve something different…and then just when I thought I found the apex, I pushed a little more.
You have been described as ‘one of the most promising young figurative painters at work today’, what would be your advice for artists just starting out?
Ha! Nothing like superlatives, right? I usually say that artists should read this very valuable book, ART/WORK by Heather Bhandari. It’s full of logical administrative and practical advice that most artists tend to overlook; not to mention countless tidbits of advice on what to do, and more importantly, what not to do, in order to get noticed. I recommend it to everyone.
And as for (so-called) words of wisdom: I always say “work twice as hard and worry half as much” but that’s a big ask for most young aspiring artists. We want it all, and we want it now. Remember, though, that an art’s career is a marathon, not a sprint. You want to pace yourself and set yourself up for a lengthy career, not just an overnight spark that sizzles and fizzles.
Your upcoming solo exhibition in New York ‘The Fool Makes A Joke At Midnight’ opens during Frieze, what is distinctive about this new set of work?
Its louder, uglier, crazier than ever before. And the installation and in particular the opening is going to be something people will be talking about for weeks afterward.
– Harry Dougall
Andrew Salgado’s: The Fool Makes a Joke at Midnight
Preview: Friday 6 May 6-9pm
Presented by BEERS London at Thierry Goldberg Gallery located at:
103 Norfolk Street, New York, 10002
All works from The Fool Makes a Joke at Midnight will be available to view on the ArtAttack app ‘Curated Art’ page from 6th May! Download HERE if you’re in GB or just search ‘ArtAttack – Share Sell Network’ globally!
For more information on the exhibition: