Souther Salazar's highly imaginative work reinterprets the world into a mythical place full of carnivals, lost cities, dinosaurs, and other fantastical creatures. In his upcoming show at Jonathan LeVine Gallery titled You Come Too, Souther continues to share the joy and excitement of adventure through his unique sense of storytelling while referencing Robert Frost's poem The Pasture.
Here Souther chats about the inspiration for his third solo show at the gallery, hidden keys, and Robert Rauschenburg.
You Come Too suggests that a more personal narrative is at play this time around. What's the inspiration behind your latest exhibit?
I think it doesn't happen often, where you can stop and look around and actually realize that you are in the middle of a very positive point in your own life, something you'd like to share. I don't mean an easy time, or a time of success, because I've been actually going through a good amount of trials and tribulations in my daily survival, but a time of clarity, a highlight in personal outlook. Nothing seems insurmountable when you are in love. I found myself in a whirlwind romance, and I left the city behind to live in this quiet little house on the river with my ladymate. No matter what goes wrong I can look out at the river and the trees and the sky and feel the love swirling inside me, and I know everything is great. I wanted to put as much of those feelings as I could into this show. It can be a rough world out there, and there is so much art these days maintaining a cool distance, keeping it obtuse and less personal and offering little to connect with. I wanted to take advantage of my joy to put something uplifting out into the world, and to make work that is accessible and inclusive instead of distancing.
Are the mythical worlds depicted in your paintings referencing a particular city (or cities)? Or are they purely an invention of your own?
It's everything at once. There are references to real cities, real places I have been and know. And then there are points where it diverges into places in my mind. I try to build worlds that allow multiple points of view, where I can remember and imagine at the same time.
The story of your nephew asking you to hide keys in your paintings for him to find is so endearing. Quite the imagination! Why keys and how many can we expect to find in your latest works?
We'd have to interview him to get to the bottom of that story! He invented the game. There's not too many keys in the paintings, we usually play the game on scraps of paper. But when my family visited my studio, he was so excited to find a key in one of the paintings, that I knew i had to go back in and hide a few more.
If you could only hang one painting from art history in your studio, what would it be and why?
There is a giant Robert Rauschenburg painting/combine called "Collection" from 1954 that I think I would love to live with. I saw it when I was little, and it completely blew my mind. The colors and textures are so beautiful in real life. I had a strange obsession with junk sculpture as a kid, and used to love to dig through garbage to make things. Discovering Rauschenburg's work made me feel like I wasn't a total weirdo. Or at least that it was OK if I was.
Tell us something about yourself we wouldn't necessarily know.
When I was 13, I was feral for a year and didn't go to school and lived in a half basement under a coffee shop. I listened to a lot of Leonard Cohen records and filled a bunch of sketchbooks with my "tortured" drawings.
If I were to spend the day with Souther, what could I expect?
Coffee, laughs, looking under rocks, whiskey, whistling and wandering.
Thanks for the chat Souther! To learn more about Souther and his artwork visit his blog. For more info about his upcoming show You Come Too, visit Jonathan LeVine Gallery. Show runs until May 14th.
All photos courtesy of the artist.