Andrew Salgado Curates Manifesto for Representation to Be Taken as Seriously as Abstraction

Andrew Salgado, the Canadian painter and curator behind “The Fantasy of Representation,” has some strong opinions on the place of representational painting in 2015. The artist, whose large-scale, multilayered portraits appear alongside the works of a handful of others working primarily from life, argues in a strongly worded essay against the idea that abstraction is a purer—or more expressive—form of contemporary art.

“Today, it’s quite trendy,” he writes, “to mutter the word ‘representational’ as some pejorative term: that as representational artists, we are somehow less enlightened—clinging on to some banality … like we haven’t quite evolved into the higher realm of pure abstraction.” Yet the works he’s assembled are neither purely abstract nor a direct representation of the eye’s perception; visually diverse and emotive in their renditions of their subjects, the paintings belie how vast (and murky) of a genre “representation” can be.

Take Hermitage 2 (2015), for instance, a woozy oil and polymer painting by Adam Lee. Like a figure viewed through the refraction of a dream, Lee’s subject is both ethereal and solid. Its cobbled-together geometries come to a point on the ghostly aura of a face. The figures rendered by Daniel Crews-Chubb, expressive and far brighter, draw on pornographic imagery and primitive art: raw expressions of humanity far from banal.

Jenny Morgan’s unsettling The Flood (2013) takes a slightly more traditional portrait practice as its entry point. Morgan, who creates oil paintings that center around femininity and the body, has washed out her subject in such a way as to feel like a faded photograph, its eyes highlighted and obscured. And Lou Ros, a Parisian artist who began creating graffiti as a tenager, brings his signature jittery, textured brand of portraiture in the sinister INC5 (2015). The show is rounded out by works like Aaron Holz’s Hand for Horace Greeley (2013) and Sverre Bjertnæs’s The New State (2015), where moments of laser focus dip into the surreal.


—Molly Osberg


The Fantasy of Representation” is on view at Beers London, Jul. 30th–Sep. 19th.


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