Andrew Salgado: Let's Start a War, 2016 (oil and oil pastel on canvas)

Beers is thrilled to present Andrew Salgado’s The Snake. Following 10 sell-out solo shows that have taken place in major cities all over the world, Salgado explains that the title refers both to his own sense of re-birth as an artist as well as the allegorical nature the show. 

Andrew Salgado: Lazarus, 2016 (oil, oil pastel, spray on canvas with collage, mixed media and hand-stitched and hand-dyed linen over 6 canvases)
Andrew Salgado: Four Swans, 2016 (oil, oil pastel and spray, on canvas with hand-dyed and hand-stitched linen)

The 11 works on display are largely inspired by the recent Orlando massacre in Florida, which killed 49 people, making it the largest mass-murder in American history. As a gay man, Salgado subscribes to Francis Bacon’s dictum that ‘it’s not the paintings that are violent, but the world itself’, Salgado finds himself once again revisiting themes of brutality and masculinity. Salgado - himself a victim of a hate-related attack in 2008 - has often referenced broad ideas around hatred, destruction and re-birth in his work since The Misanthrope, his first solo in London with the gallery in 2012.

For the show, Salgado and Beers gallery have created a 'Garden of Eden' of sorts, lining the gallery with grass and painting the entire space green. Salgado claims that there’s a heart of darkness to the works, which isn’t immediately obvious. “I want people to feel like they’re walking into a clandestine space,” he states. “there’s something evil and seductive about the show as a whole.”
Andrew Salgado: Warmask, 2016 (oil and oil pastel on linen with collage)

Andrew Salgado: Orlando, 2016 (oil, oil pastel, spray, butterfly on hand-dyed and hand-stitched linen and canvas)

Arriving in the wake of Brexit and Trump as President, the works tell a story about the state of acceptance globally. “Orlando was what spurred me on to looking at the ills around the world”, says Salgado. Many of the subjects represent outsiders, each of them an alien, wounded soul, or outcast in some way, painted on canvases that have been and stitched and hand-dyed by the artist. Let’s Start A War depicts Salgado’s first ever Muslim-born subject, which is embellished with icons and symbols, including a Klu Klux Klan leader brandishing a burning cross. “We’re waking-up every morning to more race-related attacks and assaults based on sexual or religious preferences. We seem to have reached our lowest point, the deepest hatred for our neighbour, and these sentiments ricochet like some horrific echo chamber.” The resulting painting, Echo Chamber, features a portrait of Salgado's friend, artist Sandro Kopp, which perhaps best articulates the show's dark, seductively dizzying application, bold colour palette and reverberating brushwork.  

Andrew Salgado: The Snake in situ, 2016

Andrew Salgado: The Snake in situ, 2016

Female subjects also figure strongly in the show, including a Egypt (The Fiddle and Drum), titled after the Joni Mitchell anti-war anthem; The Dancing Serpent, a hopeful work that Salgado places as the 'heart' of the exhibition titled after the Charles Baudelaire poem; and ultimately concluding with the confrontational Chysalis (Portrait of a Girl), which features Salgado’s good friend and first transgender subject. The show, from Festival to Orlando, is meant to be read as one full cycle, like the Ouroboros – an ancient Grecian symbol of a snake consuming its own tail, to symbolize something recreating itself.

Andrew Salgado: Afterlife Osiris, 2016 (oil, oil pastel, spray paint with mixed media and collage on canvas with hand-painted and hand-dyed linen)
Andrew Salgado: Echo Chamber, 2016 (oil, oil pastel, spray-paint on canvas and linen)

In many ways, the metaphor of the snake appeals to Salgado as this symbol of re-birth and healing, as well as his own process of 'shedding his skin' as a painter. This is mimicked as portrait of existence, The Snake presents our collective suffering as ultimately hopeful, with the knowledge, fear and joy that comes as part of being human. 

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Beers will release a monograph of Andrew Salgado’s work, TEN, this December, currently available for pre-purchase at the gallery or by visiting www.beerslondon.com.The book will be accompanied by an exhibition at The Gallery of the Canadian High Commission in London opening 12 January 2017. 

Exhibition runs from: 12 November - 17 December 2016
Andrew Salgado: The Dancing Serpent, 2016 (oil and oil pastel on canvas, staples, with hand-dyed and hand-stitched linen)

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