Following a recent survey exhibition at the Gallery at the Canada Embassy in Trafalgar Square embassy in London, and sell-out shows internationally, Canadian (London-based) artist Andrew Salgado and Beers London gallery announce huge solo show in Croatia, entitled A Room With a View of The Ocean, is as much a bold leap into conceptual art as it is a firm reminder of his prowess and skill as one of the UK’s leading young figurative painters.
I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company.
- Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
Following his November solo exhibition The Snake, which allowed Salgado to shed his artistic skin and reputation for creating thematically-heavy art, A Room With a View of the Ocean has enabled him to undertake a more crude and abstract approach to his art-making. Capitalising on Lauba Art House's considerable 13,000sqft space, the narrative includes nearly 70 individual artworks, created over the course of seven months, including a variety of site-specific installations designed by the artist himself to showcase his work. The installation unfolds as a journey through four distinctive chambers, painted in bold colours, extending beyond a 360-degree set. The resulting environment is created as a slightly hallucinogenic, immersive multimedia landscape, complete with furniture, video projection, and ethereal soundscapes.
Salgado’s sprawling spatial statements engulf the viewer. The mode is participatory and of course included are Salgado's instantly recognizable bold portrait paintings, which see the artist wholly and intuitively embracing textile-art to include hand-dyed and hand-stitched canvas as a structural and formative technique. In his essay E Unibus Pluram, David Foster Wallace argues toward an after-post-postmodernism, wherein the detached ironic stance taken by the post-modernists would be replaced with a “new sincerity” characterized by artists willing to work against the too-coolness, the “nudged ribs and rolled-eyes” risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama, or overcredulity. Salgado is one such artist, exhibiting an endless fascination with how we can experience and interact with something tangible and emotive. As our desire for provenance and knowledge of how something is created or grown increases, immersion becomes a physical and virtual connection between two worlds. The large-scale paintings in the first chapter feature canvases lovingly and laboriously hand-stitched by the artist. Salgado also hand-dyes his own materials, made his own chaise lounge, which he wants the viewers to perch on, as well as encouraging the viewers to push the paintings that swing from the rafters, or peek through their many ‘see-through’ parts.
The viewer will then move through to the second and third phases, through both a lemon-yellow and “midnight-blue” room, where Salgago will present his first-ever works on paper as well as sculpture and the aforementioned furniture, which manifests as a “lemon-yellow patchwork sofa”. In the penultimate room, Salgado has painted 24 individual copies Albert Camus’ seminal novel The Outsider, a book which itself has two titles and lends itself to conflicting political transatlantic interpretations. Perhaps most interesting is the artists recreation of 'an ocean' at the climax of the exhibition, complete with artificial beach and sun-loungers, as well as an 8m projection of the ocean, created by Salgado off the Western Cape of South Africa.
A Room with a View of the Ocean sees the artist eager to challenge both our expectations of figurative art and also what we come to expect from a single body of work by a solo artist. But the title refers to a sense of peace - aspiring towards calm - both personal and professional. As the word ‘immersive,’ along with ‘creative’, starts to lose its meaning through overuse, Salgado summarises what he wants the beholder to experience. “It’s simple really,” he says in a one sentence explanation. “I want them to feel like they’re inside the work.”