Salustiano: A Dream of Self

27 February - 22 March 2020

Pontone Gallery presents an exclusive selection of figurative paintings and drawings by acclaimed Spanish artist, Salustiano. These closely-observed and carefully-recorded studies of young models propose a particular ideal of male and female attractiveness.


The subjects’ groomed and sleekly-edited poses speak of autonomy and self regard. They contrive a deliberately-seductive image, which is both attractive and unsettling.

 

The pictures locate themselves in a world of sensitive and delicate draughtsmanship. Elegant drawings fluently track outline and surface. Tonalities of flesh are subtly laid down, in paint and coloured pencil, to describe the contours of the human form. Colour is deployed in dramatic saturations to graphically frame and accentuate the body. The figures float in the picture plane, unattached to a physical context or space. The focus is entirely on the protagonist, acting out their solipsistic role, basking in a realm of detachment and absorption. The artist’s scrupulous attention mirrors that of the models’ to their own vigilantly-curated, self-images.

 

The compositions make oblique reference to art-historical formats, as well as to the contemporary worlds of advertising and promotion. The artist is keen to put his subjects outside the specifically everyday. Obviously modern, his people inhabit a ‘neverland’ of indeterminate time and space, where disparate elements are combined. Archaic head- dresses and costumes are elements of ostentatious theatricality. Sumptuous colour, especially a red reminiscent of a sixteenth century cardinal’s robes, explicitly places this company in a dramatic psychological realm. This all conspires to express a sense of other- worldliness, exclusivity and mystery.

 

Salustiano paints a youthful cast of watchful and pre-occupied subjects, who exist in a dream of themselves, playing with ideas of identity and role. We are invited to enter this fantasy, a joint enterprise between the painter and his performers.