Image: David Salle
Museum Exhibitions

David Salle Inspired By True-Life Events

16 September—4 December 2016
Centro De Arte Contemporáneo

Centro De Arte Contemporáneo
C/ Alemania
29001 Malaga, Spain

The Centro de Arte Contemporáneo of Málaga is proud to host David Salle’s first show at a museum in Spain after a sixteen-year absence. For Inspired by True-Life Events, the title of the exhibition curated by Fernando Francés, the American artist has selected 32 paintings produced between 1992 and the present day. His canvases combine formulas borrowed from various creative disciplines with dramatic themes of strong emotional impact. Salle’s large formats layer a variety of culturally specific images, words and objects with provocative elements.

In the main hall at the CAC Málaga, the American artist will exhibit works created between 1992 and the present day in his first solo show on Spanish soil in sixteen years. In the words of Fernando Francés, director of the CAC Málaga, David Salle “explores the intangible relationship between objects, and the images of his works float in a fragmented world of poetic simultaneity. His paintings address the melancholic feeling of oblivion, passion and desire exacerbated by private conflicts, which, as in the paintings of his colleague Eric Fischl, not only play out fantasies but also express the mystical, mysterious quality of the encounter with woman, always somewhere between fascination and darkly sinister.”

In Salle’s pictorial universe there are two arts, one that reflects the singular self and another that reveals a multiple, fragmented self. David Salle is an example of the latter. His drawing is inspired by the rich visual vocabulary of pre-existing paintings. Salle creates assemblages based on models from art history (Velázquez, Bernini, Cézanne, Giacometti, Magritte, etc.), advertisements and everyday culture.

The central theme of Salle’s oeuvre—woman as an emblem of sexuality—is omnipresent. Rather than body textures, he paints body images: imaginary screens and veils on which the outlines of absence are sketched. The ghostly sexuality of his women shrouded in spectral veils is achieved by his use of grisaille (Untitled, 1992).

For David Salle, theme yields to form and iconography takes a back seat to pictorial expression. He edits and reconstructs images as he pleases to suit his own purposes. In Big Bend, 2014, based on an earlier work by George Caleb Bingham (a very popular American painter in the mid-19th century), Salle used the raft and eliminated everything he did not need. This was the first time he allowed himself to use perspective, something the artist sees as a deception because he does not consider himself a scene painter in any sense. The realistic composition of the raft and fishermen coexists with images that float in space, and there is a palpable struggle between the very materials used to paint the picture: acrylics for the ground, and oils on the surface. David Salle paints women’s bodies as phantasmagorical colour figures that seem to push against the surface or other figures (Charge!, 2012, and Big Bend, 2014).

David Salle (b. Oklahoma, 1952) lives and works in New York. The artist is one of the leading exponents of the new figurative painting that emerged in the 1980s.

He has had major solo shows at Skarstedt, New York (2015), Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brazil (2014), Leeahn Gallery, Seoul (2013), the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery Met, Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York (2012), and the Whitney Museum, New York (1986), among other venues. Recently Salle has participated in group exhibitions at the Parrish Museum, New York (2016), the Whitney Museum, New York (2015), Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai (2014), and the Kawaguchiko Museum of Art, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan (2011). 

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