Andrew Salgado’s ever-changing style revisits figurative paintings through abstraction

Andrew Salgado, born in 1982 in Canada, is one of the most promising young artist around the world. His exhibitions are always sold-out and his work was endorsed by numerous top-level art critics.

Andrew Salgado’s ever-changing style: face to face with the Canadian artist.

Q: How was your love for painting born? Why portraits?

I was a very artistic child. I had no real interest in sports or anything else, and I was fortunate to have teachers and mentors at various stages of my life who nurtured that as I grew up. I’m from a small Canadian city, so in retrospect I think this could have been deemed quite radical – to pursue art. As for portraits: the work continues to evolve regardless of this figure that populates the frame.

Q: In your opinion, what paintings have that other arts don’t?

Well painting is a very tactile media. Its an extension of my hand, my arm, a direct mechanical link to my brain. A lot of other forms can be remote; worked on from a laptop or in a different country or via any number of assistants. My paintings are always an extension of myself at a moment in time. I think that makes paintings quite interesting. I mean, an architect isn’t in the mud laying the bricks and mortar, but the painter is.

Q: When did you decide that you wanted to be an artist?

I think I always knew. At a certain point it became the only answer. I was plenty proficient in sciences and maths – I think I was third in my high-school, whatever that’s worth. But it just wasn’t for me. I cringe at the thought of an office job. I’m really lucky to do what I do.

As an artist one always wants their work to hang in settings that really build up the drama around the art. I think all creative forms interact… I think it’s foolish to think any one art form exists in a vacuum. It’s all about communication – all of it.

Q: What artist of the past would you like to meet?

Francis Bacon. Leonardo da Vinci. Brunelleschi.

Andrew Salgado wall full of paintings

Q: Please describe your creative process. What kind of patterns, routines, or rituals do you have? Have you ever experienced an artist’s block? How did you overcome it

Realistically it’s like a ‘job’ though I don’t really like to consider it that because it seems to take the Romance out of it; however, I go to work like any other person. I think a lot of people imagine an artist’s studio like some turn-of-the-century opium den, but in reality it is not like that. There’s a huge amount of self-discipline necessary to force yourself to create all day every day – and I do. I listen to a lot of music – I drink a lot of water. I stand all day and never take breaks or leave. If I forget lunch, I’ll just push through. There’s a sense of obsess and abscondment that makes being an artist fruitful, at least, I think there is. There is for me. I recently had some artist’s block when starting this new body of work, “Dirty Linen”, which is going to the Cape Town Art Fair with Christopher Moller gallery. But I just started, and worked, and pushed through. I looked to simple things for direction – if inspiration is the wrong word here – and I toyed around with various modes of production until something clicked. It was a more astute look to my materials that provided the avenue out. But no – its not a nice feeling when you’re stuck.

Q: It is said that your style of painting continuously changes. We think your portraits have become more and more abstract. Do you agree? How have your paintings changed over time?

I think so as well. I’m much more confident; I’m more willing to push myself to try new things. Style should always evolve, thats probably the ideology I adhere to most. Nothing should feel comfortable. How has my work changed? Well, I’m a better paint-handler, there’s no doubt that with daily practice one becomes better at their craft. I like what I’m doing, I feel confident while I’m working – that doesn’t mean problems don’t arise, but I feel capable of overcoming them whereas when I was younger there were a lot of ‘boxcutter through painting’ moments.

Q: Is there a specific time of day in which you prefer to paint?

I like evenings, but in reality I usually finish by 7pm. I love painting during heavy rainfall.

andrew salgado yellow wall wonderful paintings

Q: Who are your favorite subjects, and why?

There are a handfull subjects that I’ve returned to time after time. One of the more notable ones is painter Sandro Kopp. He’s also Tilda Swinton’s partner.

Q: You said that “the paintings and the music have a real synergy”. What kind of music do you play in your studio and how does music inspire your paintings?

This is kind of a cheesy, personal thing… because I can’t discuss it without sounding like a real nerd – I suppose I am. But I have a profound emotive connection to music. Most of the paintings have accompanying songs; the shows have giant playlists that I’ll put on repeat over and over while I’m painting. Today I was listening to Masterpiece by Big Thief. I need something with a bit of push.

Q: In 2015 you have been the subject of a TV documentary “Storytelling”, which followed you over four months while you were creating. Can you tell us more about this experience?

Uhm… I haven’t watched that in ages. I think I’ve changed a lot. I think I would look at myself and see my hesitation as a person and as an artist. I think I’d say the same thing about myself now if I looked back in 3 years time. A lot happens when you’re working, alone, day after day after day. It’s a testament to your own will power, I think.

D: In the same year you curated the exhibition “This Is Not The Way To Disneyland” at VOLTA art fair in Basel. What did this exhibition represent for you?

This was about the ugliness in humanity. The show was based on the apocryphal words spoken by a 12 year old after he was abducted in Southern California by four – four – men who kidnaped, raped, and tortured young boys. It’s very ugly, this exhibition wanted to focus on violence.

Q: Is travel a source of inspiration for you? Have you ever been to Italy and Switzerland? Did these places ever inspire your paintings?

Yes I’ve traveled Italy extensively and I go to Basel every year for the art fair. Travel is a big thing for me. My last exhibition, “A Room With A View of the Ocean”, was based specifically on a cathartic event that happened to me during my travels abroad. But in general I use travel as a means to relax, think, and regenerate creatively.

Q: Are there any interesting personalities or artists that have affected you in recent art exhibitions? 

I recently saw the Daniel Richter show at Camden Arts Centre and Tal R at Victoria Miro. These are two of my favorites.

Q: How important is design in your life? Are you passionate about interior design? Is it a source of inspiration for you or not?

Yeah, I think interior design and art do have a relationship; I mean, most of my paintings end up in someone’s home, so I think as an artist one always wants their work to hang in settings that really build up the drama around the art. I think all creative forms interact… I think its foolish to think any one art form exists in a vacuum. Its all about communication – all of it.

Forthcoming solo exhibitions include Dirty Linen (& The Nihilist’s Alphabet) with Christoher Moller Gallery for Cape Town Art Fair (Feb 2018), followed by Somewhere In Between at Christopher Moller Gallery, Cape Town (March 2018); currently untitled exhibition, Angell Gallery, Toronto (October 2018); and finally a return to both NYC and London in 2019. Andrew is represented by BEERS LONDON gallery.