The Lotus Eaters
MAKI Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Opening Preview: Saturday 15 October, 2022
Exhibition: 16 Oct. – 19 Nov. 2022
MAKI Gallery is pleased to present London-based artist Andrew Salgado’s first solo exhibition in Japan, The Lotus Eaters, at MAKI Gallery / Omotesando, Tokyo. Salgado’s paintings almost exclusively portray male figures coalescing with objects, forms, animal life, and Salgado’s distinctive exuberant use of colour. These elements seemingly appear without logic to cross existing boundaries; factual and fictional, interior and exterior, personal and societal. These chaotically orchestrated scenes convey a certain effective quality and atmosphere.
In Salgado’s paintings, noise and quiescence coexist. The abundance of colours, mediums, motifs, and a multitude of references never overwhelm, but seem to produce a poetic peacefulness. In each piece, Salgado explores relationships between body and surroundings and, in doing so, his work becomes performative in itself. A number of different narratives emerge upon each viewing, calling for unexpected or imaginary narratives. In recent years, Salgado has undergone the process of incorporating more abstract, symbolic and compositional elements into his paintings, challenging his own practices has led to an evolution of his work over the past decade.
In this show, Salgado draws from a long fascination with Greek mythology. Borrowing from Homer’s Odyssey, the title is taken from the story of the lotus eaters who inhabit a remote island on which lotus fruits are the primary food, and acts as a narcotic. Those who eat the lotus sleep in peace but lose the will to continue their journey. The practice of Pharmacopoeia – which derives from ancient Greece and refers to the making of healing medicine by harvesting ingredients from nature – is one that also intrigues Salgado. Pharmacopeia also happens to be the title of British artist, Derek Jarman’s collection of writings on his garden that he crafted and nurtured as an escape from his battle with HIV. Jarman’s legacy has greatly influenced Salgado’s practice in these past years. It is this idea of escape and remedies bringing tranquillity to body and mind that he is concerned with.
The characters we meet throughout the pieces, including Salgado himself in Lotus Eater, each exist somewhere along this cross-section of fantasy, myth and reality. Their surroundings of alluring flowers, dazzling fruits, with birds and butterflies flying around, invite us to indulge in a floating sensation and forgetfulness. Yet it is juxtaposed with an indescribable expression of freneticism and joy which somehow invokes a fully awake consciousness of reality. This is the journey Salgado takes us on, almost in search of cures for the ails of contemporary life – weighed down with endless anxieties by the demands to constantly produce and adhere to conformity or daily life. Salgado’s work attempts to tell us that it is still possible to find balance, as he indicates literally, with impossibly balanced stacks of objects in several of his works.
For Salgado, myths, literature, music and his personal narratives are not the only references. He also deeply respects and engages with the tradition of figurative painting both historic and contemporary, ranging from Matisse, Gauguin, Bacon, Richard Diebenkorn, Peter Doig and more. This affluence of reference, together with his profound introspection and sense of humour, enable each work to conjure up emotions and memories which tend otherwise to be overlooked. We hope you will take this opportunity to experience Andrew Salgado’s works at MAKI Gallery / Omotesando, Tokyo for his debut exhibition in Asia and witness his blossoming practices.
Text by Haruna Takeda