The Snake: Salgado's Shoreditch Exhibition

THE SNAKE graced its present upon Beers London on Friday November 11th, showcasing 11 recent works created by Canadian fine artist, Andrew Salgado. The small yet highly established gallery in Shoreditch displayed a vibrant arrangement of portraiture that lifted spirits and united a community together.

The body of work exceeds all expectations of the artist’s capabilities- the style of painting and overall composition showed a vast progression in Salgado’s work and allowed meaningful details to show through. The portraiture showed a complete sense of freedom within their domain. The playful yet pinnacle brush strokes created a fantasy world of self, yet through the strong vigorous application of the paint, constructed a violent undertone to be asserted. Within each of the portraiture pieces a sense of isolation showed through. Elements of the subject being engulfed within the paint or the background, allowing an exploration of the real and fantasy. The vibrancy of the paintings showed a great sense of life yet through each piece having dark undertones it created a feeling of sensitivity and bruising to it’s story of creation.

The scale and vibrancy of the work consumes and engulfs you demanding your full attention, yet upon closer inspection Salgado is not just a painter but a narrator. His work isn’t singular based upon oil paints, although a dominant aspect within the work’s realm. This new body of work is all about a new level of play through the application of stitch work and oil pastels even on miniature figurines, yet these elements of creation add innocence to the exhibition’s overall message.

Why entitled The Snake? The image of a serpent throughout history has had a metaphorical stance on the action of rebirth, eternity and healing. This image of the snake and the contrast between this and the butterflies shows a juxtaposition of life and death. Though each of these animals go through the process of shredding one’s skin, each one has a different symbolic meaning behind them. Andrew Salgado describes the snake as a villain, negative connotations of evil and threats to life although as transformative character none the less, whereas the butterflies show as symbol of hope and freedom. These metaphors not only describe the act of Salgado shredding his skin as an artist through his progression within his field but also has much deeper connotations.

Though there was joy and celebrations of the high success of Salgado’s paintings, the exhibition brought home the sobering reality of the Orlando Massacre. The opening night of the exhibition saw a crowd of 490 guests - ten for each of the victims in the Orlando massacre. Not only did the exhibition raised awareness of this but created a support system of those effected and the LGBTQ community. Donations were made to US charity @oneorlando which supports the diversity of Orlando and UK charity Diversity Role Models, supporting and educating LGBTQ youth.

Salgado has had a huge impact upon the art world and the LGBTQ community throughout his journey. His support and pain for this suffering comes from the obstacles he has has to face. In 2008 Salgado and his partner were victims of a brutal homophobic attack during a music festival in British Columbia, resulting in harm to the artist and his partner which later resulted in them being arrested. No charges were pressed but they made no effort to detain or find the eight men.

The years since the attack Salgado has pushed forward in efforts to raise awareness and support for those within the community. Watching Salgado on the opening night and the interaction he had with the people around him was nothing less than humble. The opening night showed the sense of community he was able to create not only for the love of art but for the LGBTQ community, uniting people from all of the world in this one exhibition space with nothing but appreciation for one another.

Beers Gallery will release a monograph of Andrew Salgado’s work, TEN, this December. The book covers the past ten years of Salgado's artistic career in 300 full colour pages with various texts, a new introduction, and an archive of close up and studio photographs. The book will coincide with an exhibition at The Gallery of the Canadian High Commission in London opening 12 January 2017 until 28 February 2017. by Hannah Hopgood for Bad Luck