About Time You Met: Andrew SalgadoBy Suzi Malin
Tell me about the title of your new show?
I feel like a snake shedding its skin. The direction of my new work may turn people off, but this is what I wanted to do. I don’t want to do a dark show, optimism peers through the fissures. From the outset it might appear macabre but there are peaks of hope. There is love in the show, love of people. I think the works feel bruised, everyone depicted has a story, and a core of pain.
I have heard that the opening night is going to be pretty spectacular.
The walls will be painted green; there will be a grass carpet, the odour of grass will be pumped into the gallery and 490 live butterflies will be released as a tribute to the 49 gay victims of the Orlando shooting. I want a dark seductive garden feeling. The works will hang close together in a small space, so everyone will hopefully feel overwhelmed by their presence.
Tell me about this painting? (I say pointing a small painting of Gauguin.)
This is called The Festival in Hell and is shown together with crazy wallpaper and plastic figures. You see, the devil gave the world the power to destroy themselves. In this painting Gauguin is looking down at the world and thinking ‘what have we done?’
I notice the titles of your paintings are a comment of life too, like Echo Chamber, Let’s Start a War and The Dancing Serpent?
Yes, I discuss my concerns and observations of the world through my art.
What do you want out of life?
Happiness. Success is an ugly word. I don’t want money. I’m happy when I’m successful, and my paintings are going well. I would like to think that my works are important.
What was your highest high, creatively speaking?
Right now is a funny time. We are only as good as the last body of work we produce. Each body has to beat the one before. I have to feel what I’m doing now is better than the last show. I guess I am on a natural high right now combined with a natural fear before the show. Afterwards one experiences the expected lows returning to an empty studio.
What was the lowest point in your life?
It was definitely 2008, the time of the gay hate crime assault. I was 24 and it was bad. You don’t have the skills to deal with such an attack at that age. My partner and I were set upon by 8 people, and I lost my front teeth. My partner was injured more than me. In many ways, being a victim of a hate crime started my career as I had something I had to paint about.
What do you think of the art scene today?
My journey as an artist made me learn and accept. What worries me is where certain factions are heading. I’m stubborn, I stick to what I do. There has to be an element of thought and skill.
What is the most enlightening thing that you ever learned from a teacher?
What would be the most important piece of advice you could give any student?
Worry half as much, work twice as hard and support your peers.
What is the starting point of all your work? How do you know when it’s finished?
I know when it’s not done rather than when it’s done. They just say something.
Finally, may I ask if you could have any wish – what would it be?
I want a Bacon or a Da Vinci. I collect. I believe in collecting and Bacon, unflinching in his sexuality and his ideas has always been a huge inspiration to me.
This is an exhibition not to be missed. Go and see Andrew’s work, running until 17th December.
The Snake is being shown at the Beers Gallery, 1 Baldwin street, London, EC1 VNU