London. It’s a dark, moist evening with an above average amount of bustle in the city. Andrew Salgado peers down from his studio window onto the streets below. His eyes focus not on the honeybee activity, but on the rain smearing down the window and how the faces of those hurrying by are altered.
Andrew’s astounding perception is directly expressed in his paintings. He captures an essence of his subjects, a vulnerability that is today rarely seen in abstract expressionism. His quintessential accent streams across the choppy Atlantic as he explains why art is simply his Universe.
“Art finds the avenue to articulate the things I can’t adequately express in any other way. I have realized recently that I define myself first and foremost as an artist: this is the formative aspect of my person; all other things are tangential to that aspect as my core. It’s how I know where I am in the world, how I understand stimulus and how I relate to others.”
I ask Andrew what attracted him to his current style and how his work stands out among other artists.
“I think this was a long process of understanding how to respond to the imagery I was drawn to, historically and contemporarily. I think style is an open-ended question, and not something that ever needs to be understood fully…I like to think of it as a porous entity, and I would assume that how I work in 1, 2, 5 or 10 years should change quite radically. For instance, I’ve taken some large departures recently with the works for my most recent solo show but these might be minute occurrences, or subtle changes that only I’m really aware (or not so aware) of. I think that’s what keeps studio-work exciting – the notion that nothing is set in stone. It’s all about a large process of exploration.
“My work was once criticized as being schizophrenic, which I thereafter adopted as one of my strengths because I think that even within the confines of what I do, and how I paint, I tend to be something of a chameleon. I’m always looking to change, challenge, and work outside of my comfort zone, so involving newness and experimentation in the studio is key to me. I really have no specific process; everything changes from painting to painting. I recently moved into a new studio which allows me to work on a body of work concurrently, as opposed to consecutively, and this is doing interesting things to the formation of the paintings and how I am beginning to create cohesive bodies of works, as opposed to just ‘individual paintings’. The rest is up to happy accidents and an attempt to continually push myself into new territory. I will say that my work comes from a very personal, passionate, and highly motivated source. I’m extremely involved in what I do and have genuine belief that what I’m doing might invoke some sort of positive change.”
Truly interested, I ask Andrew what his favorite color is. He snickers and elaborates.
“Ah, the most simple questions are still the most exciting. I love Prussian Blue. Burnt Umber. Naples Yellow Light. Those are my top 3. However, for my last show I made an arbitrary rule: no blue. I played with purple, which I hate, just to see what came of it.”
Wondering what or who would inspire Andrew, he explains that rather than people or parts, it’s a principle that sustains him.
“Bjork once said that it was her ultimate desire as an artist to create the perfect piece of music; that she was aware that this is an impossible feat, but that she’d keep on trying, over and over… It’s the obsession that pushes one into the studio to do the same thing over and over with the hope that some beautiful flourishes might occur along the way.”
Being so eloquent, I’m sure Andrew has some advice for the emerging artists of today.
“I see a lot of younger artists who are too hard on themselves. I know; I’ve been there. But when you’re 24 and you expect everything to happen to you in an instant, you’ll burn out. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and artists need to focus on their own individual careers and the trajectory that will allow them to accomplish their own career at their own pace. You are not in a race against your peers. Your colleagues are not your enemies. I had a miserable time in my MFA because it felt like everyone was hoarding resentment toward everyone else. Fred Tomaselli has a brilliant quote about his career being something of ‘slow drips and long burns’ while others around him have flashed up and fizzled out. Now that I’m a little older, and experienced some modest successes, I’ve gotten a bit of clarity on the subject. I don’t want too much too soon. I want to control my career and the pace that I reach certain goals because I want to mature gracefully into the career I’ve chosen. Young artists worry too much. Chill out and work hard – harder than everyone else – and things will happen.”
The painter’s painter- Andrew Salgado. Visit his website for more… andrewsalgado.com
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