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Andrew Salgado: Portrait of the artist as a young man on the rise

A detail from Salgado’s Trust, 2012.

Beers.Lambert Contemporary

There's a bold, tortured beauty to the portraits of Andrew Salgado, and in London, where the Regina-born-and-raised painter has lived since 2008, collectors and critics are noticing. His new show, The Misanthrope, opened at Beers.Lambert Contemporary earlier this month, and by the end of the second day, more than half the paintings had sold. The work is complex and provocative in its technique and subject matter (there's a portrait of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer). "I don't shy from melodrama in my work," says Salgado, 29.

But he has moved on, he says, from the dark turn his work took after he and his partner were assaulted at a music festival in Pemberton, B.C., four years ago. Minus two front teeth, Salgado painted a seething self-portrait, and this became a seminal moment in his work. "After that, my practice was really politicized," he says.

"I'm a gay man, I'm an artist, and what am I painting and why am I painting it? I really think it's important to ask yourself these pertinent questions in terms of making art. I always ask myself: What is it doing? And I realize that prior to that, my artwork wasn't really doing anything; it was just decorative."

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Salgado has solo shows planned next year for New York and Ottawa, but a solo show at the Art Gallery of Regina this December has been postponed because he recently broke his arm (a studio accident). His homecoming will have to wait, but when it happens, it will no doubt be triumphant.

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