INTERVIEWS

Andrew Salgado

One of my absolute favourite things about travelling is meeting new people, and just once in awhile the people I meet, also do something interesting that I can share with you guys.

On my recent trip to Cape Town I ran into Andrew Salgado at a New Years Eve house party. I walked up the stairs and practically walked straight into Andrew. Andrew and his partner were also in Cape Town on holiday, just like me. A few days later we met again for sundowners around the pool at the house they had rented in Camps Bay.

He is featured in 100 Painters of Tomorrow, published by Thames & Hudson (2014); Saatchi Art calls him “one to invest in today”; and is actually also collaborating with Danish fashion house RAINS to release a line of luxury raincoats.

Andrew is definitely one to watch, I adore his colourful painting. I asked him a few question for you to get to know him a bit also, and make sure you check out his upcoming show in New York opening in May.

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Tell in short, who is Andrew Salgado?

I’m a 33yr old painter; I’ve been based in London for nearly 8 years and specifically in East London for about 5 years. I would call myself a figurative-abstract painter… I’m a graduate of Chelsea College of Art (2009). Aside from art, I’m pretty boring. When I’m not painting I’m usually watching rubbish television.

What is your background?

I’m half Mexican, though born and raised in Canada.

How would you describe your paintings?

Well, it’s primarily figurative, but I’m not really interested in capturing accuracy in a person’s likeness. That is to say, I’m more interested in these tangential, often abstract concepts that arise throughout the creation of the work. I’m less concerned in accurately recording a person, and more concerned in exploring psychological ideas and a technical exploration of paint. I’ve now been painting professionally for ten years (in the autumn we are releasing the first monograph of my work, tentatively entitled Andrew Salgado: Ten to commemorate this milestone and I think the work has changed a lot over this period. In terms of content, its mostly men, often quite vulnerable or wounded looking, but the execution has varied dramatically. One thing people often comment on is the sense of exploration that occurs between each body of work, where each iteration of my practice is actually quite wildly different from the last. The idea that I might redefine myself each time I put out a new body of work is really important to me; reinvention, risk-taking, and surprise. I don’t want to be a one trick pony, and this technical advancement is what keeps the work interesting. Right now there is an element of causality, fun, and playfulness that is challenging the surface of the work – where it competes for attention with the figure and he effectively becomes reduced, or of a lesser importance to the reading of the painting. It’s all a process, and as a painter, I am, myself, on a trajectory. I learn as I go, and that’s an exciting and at times nerve-wracking process.

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Where will you exhibit next?

I’m currently working on a show called The Fool Makes a Joke at Midnight opening May 6 at Thierry Goldberg in the Lower East Side (until May 28); followed by a yet-to-be titled fourth solo exhibition at my primary representation, Beers London, opening October 7 this year. In 2017 I’ll have a solo at Lauba, which is a privately-owned immense, warehouse space in Zagreb Croatia; following this either in Toronto, Canada or Dallas, Texas…just depends on a number of factors.

What you love most about your job?

The freedom. I am responsible to nobody but myself. I steer the boat, so to speak. I set my own pace and my own expectations. I’m a workaholic, so I’m always in studio, but just to answer to nobody but myself is really liberating. I always tell the directors of the galleries that I’ll be showing with that they have to trust me: I never show work in progress; they have to bestow me with the freedom and faith that I’ll deliver, and I always do. Ultimately if I fail the only person I let down is myself. That’s a sharp guillotine to hang over my head.

What has been the greatest challenge being an artist?

In all honesty every day is a challenge. I am really irked by questions that begin with “now that you’ve made it…blah blah blah”, because each day I’m pushing myself to reach new levels. If I’m not – as soon as I lose that razor sharp desire to achieve – I might as well give up.

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What has been your greatest achievement? 

I live my the mantra that “each painting I sell could be the last painting I ever sell.” There is no certainty in what I do, so each time a show sells out, that’s a huge achievement in itself. If the NYC show sells, it will be the 10th show to have sold out either on – or before – opening day. But each time I try something new, I risk ostracizing my followers. It’s a precious balance, but ultimately the desire to try something new surpasses the expectations of my followers and I’ve been okay. I think people are on for this ride and love to expect the unexpected from me.

What are your biggest regrets?

Cheesily enough, Madonna once said “absolutely no regrets”. That sentiment stuck with me. I’ve had some hardships in my life, in 2008 my partner and I were assaulted in a hate-crime, and I lost my teeth. At the time, that was really devastating, but its true when they say every cloud has a silver-lining.

What do you dream about?

I have pretty strange dreams. I think lots of my professional anxieties come out when I’m sleeping…Actually I’m currently looking for a new studio (my current space for the past 3 years is being torn down to make flats) and I recently had a dream that my studio was at the top of a mountain; we took a cable car up during a blizzard, and then the cable car operator tried kidnapping me. I think its fair to say that’s a manifestation of ‘studio anxiety!’

What is the first thing you think about Monday morning?

How lucky I am that I take Mondays off! I work Tuesday through Saturday. Monday is always spent at home doing admin, running errands, or planning the week ahead.

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What country have you always dreamt about visiting?

It changes. I travel quite a bit – usually I take at least one month off after finishing a body of work to recharge. Lately Iceland, India, or Brazil has been high on the wish-list. I’ve not been back to Mexico in over 10 years, so this May my partner and I will go down there with my father and experience Mexico City for a few days before heading to Playa del Carmen. I’m excited to reconnect with my family there and share that part of my culture with my partner. The thought of eating tacos al pastor on the beach is enough of a pay-off to keep me hard at work for the time being.

Favourite city?

I adore Florence, for obvious art-related reasons. I’ve gone to Cape Town over the Christmas break the past three years…such wonderful food and wine, and the people are extraordinary. Plus my other representing gallery Christopher Møller is based there. Eventually, I’d love to move to New York to re-situate my practice for some time. I always call it my home away from home away from home. I spend a lot of time there each year, and I think that in some ways it suits my personality more than London.

Favourite hotel?

Hmm, that has to be the So Sofitel in Silom, Bangkok. It’s a beautiful hotel with an infinity pool way up on the 10th floor. We had a lot of fun there…the Thais are second to none in customer service.

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Favourite store?

I don’t really spend money on anything except art supplies or art, sadly. But I’ve been collecting vintage German ‘fat lava’ or Scheurich vases lately. I love ceramics. The uglier the better.

Which book are you reading at the moment?

I just started Room, because the film absolutely blew my mind. I recently read Camus’ The Outsider and it had a wicked impact on me. I’ve returned to it lately as a source of inspiration for my latest show. I bought Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot as well, but its sitting untouched in my top-drawer. Maybe later this year I’ll get around to it!

What is your favourite track at the moment?

I love music. This is a really open-ended question for me because I work about 10hours daily, and I listen to music all day. I’m also an album guy, so talking about single songs is kind of difficult. But I’ve been going through an Arcade Fire renaissance lately. I went back to the first album recently and its really just an extraordinary debut. “Wake Up” is divine. The past few weeks I’ve been going to studio and listening to each of their albums, song by song, in a row. Thats a really explosive auditory experience. The tempo shifts, the sensory environments created by each album. They are really conceptual, and I think even the last album was so brilliant, despite a few lacklustre tracks. I truth, I love Canadian music; its highly underrated. Arcade Fire, (my good friend) Jenn Grant, Patrick Watson, Feist, Junior Boys, the recently disbanded Crystal Castles…even Neil Young. These are all really fantastic Canadian musicians. Pat Watson’s album Lovesongs for Robots was far and above my favourite album of 2016. Another song I’m really into lately is “Meet in the Dark” by this band called Dark Dark Dark. And Sharon Van Etten is my lazy lover. My partner hates her voice so I have to indulge in her music while at work. Her b-sides are epic, I challenge you to listen to “I Always Fall Apart” and not be blown away. I named a 2015 painting “Peace Signs” after her song of the same name. I want to paint her. Don’t even get me started on Radiohead. “Separator” on TKOL is just almost as good as it gets. Thats a lot of answers to a pretty straightforward question.

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Three blogs or Instagramers you follow?

@Collecteurs is really good for cutting edge art. I like @onefinebid for cultural and lifestyle stuff. And @9gag, because you can’t be highbrow all the time.

Best designer?

Oh I’m terrible with designers. Bad question for me! Though my favourite artists lately have been Gauguin and Tal R.

Greatest inspiration?

Francis Bacon. My parents. My partner.

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Portrait © David Sandison

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