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David Salle Showcases New Complex Compositions at Lehmann Maupin HK

One of the definers of postmodern sensibility, American artist David Salle is having a major solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong. His latest body of work is on display through November 12, taking inspiration from one of his distinctive oeuvres from 1993 titled “Early Product Painting.”


Consisting of collages of advertisements flatly painted, the works in this series served as “backdrops for the artist’s performative and improvised interventions.” His new series is based on this, further highlighting Salle’s skill to create composite paintings composed of various colors, gestures, and forms, which lend themselves to multiple interpretations. As Salle layers silkscreened or transfer-print photographs of a hooded figure — typical of America in the 1950s and 60s — combined with free-hand charcoal drawing and abstract marks, he persists in redefining and challenging viewers’ notions of experiencing and comprehending a painting.


Akin to his previous body of work, the artist's distinguished technique of juxtaposing various historic and contemporary imageries aims not only to provide a rich visual experience, but also to disrupt any hierarchy between image and meaning. This is further exemplified through Salle’s strong influence of performance and film in his paintings owing to his long-standing involvement in the industry. It is possible to detect references to the field, including cinematic devices such as close-ups, zooms, montage, and splicing, enhancing the paintings’ narrative.


Having graduated from CalArts in the 70s after studying alongside John Baldessari, Salle gradually rose to prominence in the mid-80s in New York. Since then, he has been regarded as “a leader in the return to figurative painting” in that period because of how he uniquely merged figuration with a diverse pictorial language. The painter’s visual vocabulary is based on models from art history, advertisements, design, and American pop culture, thus creating an assemblage with multiple cultural references.


“David Salle” runs through November 12 at Lehmann Maupin Hong Kong.