Alex Jovanovich introduces a portfolio by Sal Salandra

Original article here

THERE IS NOTHING MORE EXHILARATING than being a pervert. The seventy-eight-year-old leather daddy and lapsed Catholic Sal Salandra understands this very well. The self-taught artist’s mesmerizing embroideries, which he refers to as “thread paintings,” are gleeful concoctions of pop culture, autobiography, and sadomasochistic gay sex. His Bernini–cum–Gene Bilbrew mise-en-scènes, fastidiously and libidinously conceived, are divinely inspired. While the artist shuns organized religion, he is a deeply spiritual man (he even considered going into the priesthood at one point in his youth, but feared his dyslexia would prevent him from learning to read and write Latin). Salandra maintains a unique relationship with the Creator as he works—roughly twelve hours a day, almost daily—on his singular creations. He once told an interviewer in an issue of Protocol magazine, “As I am sewing, I say ‘God, don’t you think this guy should have a finger in his ass?’ Ha!” Obviously, the artist’s Almighty is not a judgmental Old Testament prude, but a generous and loving entity who blessed us with a desire for sex and sensuality as tools to amplify our hearts and minds. Of course, Salandra regards his artmaking as a natural extension of this carnal gift: “I know He thinks it’s okay, so that’s why I do it.”

Across the following pages are some of my favorite pieces by the artist, including Garter Boys, 2022, an exquisite montage of shapely young men modeling various items, scantily and scandalously cut, of ladies’ boudoir wear; Yabba Dabba Doo, 2022, in which Fred and Barney get ready to engage in some vigorous backdoor antics while Betty and Wilma blissfully lez out together; and The Wonderful Wizard, 2021, a rendering of L. Frank Baum’s infamous foursome (and Toto, too!) joyously prancing down the Yellow Brick Road. In the foreground of this composition is a happy and horny Glinda, proudly exposing her breasts; opposite her are several members of the Lollipop Guild diddling their (ahem) “lollipops,” with great enthusiasm, out in the open. But the work I lust after most—and had the pleasure of poring over last year when I visited “I Was Only Dreaming,” a massive group exhibition staged at a three-level townhouse in New York’s Chinatown (organized by the artist, curator, and former pro skater Tony Cox, who hosted a concurrent presentation of Salandra’s art at Club Rhubarb, Cox’s appointment-only apartment gallery on the Lower East Side)—is the Bible-like tome How to Make a Slave in Seven Days, 2020–23, designed in collaboration with bookbinder Hadley Vogel. This glorious object, encased in supple black leather, illustrates the process of a master training his submissive in a BDSM relationship over the course of a week—approximately the amount of time it took God to fashion the universe. DOSE A SLAVE RECEVE FULLFILMENT FROM HIS MASTER OR DOSE A MASTER RECEVE FULLFILMENT FROM HIS SLAVE, reads a page from Salandra’s bulky yet elegant volume. I imagine the artist, who’s occupied both roles in that dyad, would kindly suggest you find out for yourself by doing the same. 

Alex Jovanovich

  • Slipper is not the problem