Andrew Salgado's portrait was the star of the show at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters earlier this year. So we're looking forward to seeing more of his vibrant and energetic portraits in his upcoming solo show. Before the exhibition we caught up with Andrew to find out how he developed his distinctive style and the dialogue he tries to have with the viewer:
How did you get into art and particularly portraiture?
I have been far more interested in art than almost anything else in my entire life. As a kid I would fake illness to miss out on sports classes in favour of programs like pottery and drawing and painting – in fact, I made a stained glass lamp by the time I was 12 and since then I have always been an art nerd. When I first entered university I went into the sciences and it only took me one semester to realise that these weren't 'my people' and this was not what I was meant to do and quickly switched over to Arts.
My venture into exclusively figurative work was an organic progression as I have always been interested in people and their stories and feel that so much can be conveyed through the power of figurative painting.
Who are the people who feature in your works and how are they selected?
The people in my works run the whole gamut – beginning with self portraits, portraits of friends and/or those personal to me, or complete strangers. I appropriate images from stock photos, magazine ads, and the internet and I do this quite shamelessly as I believe there is a marked transformation in the process from reading these works and transferring them – in paint – into a new language on the canvas.
How and why did you develop your signature style of bright colours and energetic brush strokes?
I am at a good place in my life and on the most banal level I think that is perhaps reflected in a brighter colour scheme and a genuinely optimistic look at the subject matter in the paintings. While bright colours do predominate, if you look at my earlier works, they have less mixing, less confidence and are more hesitant. I've even described my style as schizophrenic and I look at this as a forte, as I am not limiting myself onto one technical avenue but rather remaining porous and experimental as I believe this is the best way to grow and challenge myself.
What emotional impact do you try to convey through your paintings?
To me the paintings are a conduit to express things in my life that I may not be so eloquent in expressing verbally. While I try to remain quite private in my personal life, the only way to explain a work is to find that core of brutal honesty. I have had a very fortunate, positive and happy life but I have also experienced certain things in my life that I wouldn't wish upon anyone else in their life time. I am always surprised by how many people contact me telling me what kind of powerful and emotive responses they have had to my work because on one level to me it seems strange that anyone would be able to relate to them as strongly as I might.
Andrew Salgado: The Misanthrope is on at Beers Lambert Contemporary, 1 Baldwin St, EC1V 9NU until 17 November. Admission is free.