Andrew Salgado: A Never-Setting Sun | BEERS London

Andrew Salgado draws inspiration from heavy folk traditions and literary sources, but his light touch renders his paintings pretty, lyrical. The collection of oil-and-pastel portraits on show at BEERS London also benefitted greatly from being viewed on a sunny day.

His subjects - mainly male - are surrounded by flowers and greenery, occasionally printed words. The palette is vibrant and zingy. Some of the artistic signifiers are a bit on the nose - did his portrait of Virginia Woolf really need to be titled River Ouse? - others, which focus on the process of creation, like The Protagonist, below, are moving in their directness.

andrew salgado - ’the protagonist’

His protagonist is almost too large for the frame and the room in which he sits. The flowers on the table in front of him are identical to the flowers he sketches on paper, and the flower paintings in frames behind him, and the flower-like sun in the background. He doesn’t look at any of these; instead his gaze is directly at us.

Derek Jarman - a gardener as well as an artist - is clearly an important inspiration for Salgado. A Chrysanthemum for Derek Jarman features the skeletal filmmaker bearing a flower, Prospect Cottage in the background. Others which delve into mythology and folk art are playful, even sexy. His vibe reminded me of the queer folk artists Paul Bommer and Jim Pilston, whose work I saw and enjoyed at Gallery 46 last year.

The Jarman quote introducing the show is: I sit here in the dark holding a candle that throws my divided shadow across the room… I have not moved for many hours. Years, a lifetime, eddy past. There’s certainly a watchful stillness about many of Salgado’s subjects.

But the stillness is also well-lit; sunny brightness pervades these paintings. It made me think of the full-scale mockup of Prospect Cottage I explored when I visited the Jarman retrospective show at the Garden Museum two summers ago, just after the first lockdown lifted. It seemed unbelievably dark and poky, in need of some candlelight.

For Salgado on the other hand, his introspection is bright, pretty and lyrical. He took inspiration and made it something new.

Andrew Salgado: A Never-Setting Sun is at BEERS (London). 10 April - 14 May 2022