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Art of England Magazine

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Art of England Magazine ~ November Edition 2010
75th Issue.


'PAUL MELLIA

‘ICONS WITH ATTITUDE’

Internationally acclaimed 3D Super Realism Artist presents his latest Show this coming October.

'Tucked away in a modest studio in London, prominent super realism artist Paul Mellia prepares for his first time showing in the North of England. Ignoring the hussle and bussle of London, he’s immersed in the timeless meditation of creation, meticulously focusing on every intricate detail of his new piece. A flicker of light here. A thread of hair there. The approach is almost sculptural; painting and peeling away layers, until the final un-masking of one of his new Originals.

Born in 1958, Paul’s career began after graduating with a fine art degree from South End College of Art (1976-1979). His first appointment was painting frescos and 16th Century images for the Baroness De Vail in Paris. There, he lived an almost Bohemian existence, basking in the inspiration of legendary painters and sculptors such as Rubin, Picasso, Dali and Gaudi. But it was Warhol’s Pop Art that resonated the deepest, subsequently fuelling Paul to focus on what he loved most - images of Americana, gleaned from books given to him as a child. ‘From a very early age I was able to paint them in fine detail. I wanted to make them real and show a different side of them’.

And so he does. Now one of the world’s fastest selling artists in today’s contemporary scene, Paul is renowned for his distinctive 3-D interpretations of celebrated icons. Straddling the delicate line between visual art and popular culture, his work is neither illustrative, nor photographic, but stands somewhere between the two - frequently verging on fantasy. His subjects are often heroes, including Super, Hollywood and Cartoon. While some claim merely to ascetically massage, others are infused with the weight of being. Don’t be fooled by his primary, lushly exaggerated colours. The hero’s journey that Paul lures us into, delves beyond the innocent domain of primary school kids. Joker having a dark night of the soul; Catwoman just daring you to say no. Even Hulk is brooding, sinister perhaps, seeming to echo the artist’s inner existential examinations.

Upon first meeting, Paul is more likely to tell you he’s a builder rather than an artist and despite his success remains endearingly modest. His mischievous playfulness, and rough-edged directness belies a compassionate sensitivity. ‘I probably hide a lot of stuff’, he acknowledges, ‘and in the paintings, the truth comes out.’ Fascinated by the dualities of life, he returns often to themes of love, loss, and sexual fantasy – particularly in private commissions, where history unfolds more freely. ‘Who’s Got The Power Now?’ is a poetic rumination on judgement and perception. A clown as the misfit standout, yet illuminated under a solitary light, he is simply outstanding. The maverick versus the sheep. Taking the concept further, Paul developed a series of holographic paintings. Inspired by Dali’s ‘Swans Reflecting Elephants’, they flood the senses with four-dimensional stimuli to neutralise attention spans, and strengthen visual filters.


Over the years, Paul’s striking work has exhibited in major cities across the world, and garnered him ongoing acclaim. In Los Angeles, his debut solo show, Preview of Hollywood, sold out in the first two days of opening. Returning to the UK, Paul designed and created a life-size work of art which surrounded a prestigious Docklands development which was unveiled by Richard Luce, Minister of the Arts.

In 1998, powered by the death of his mother, he translated the emotional void into a hypnotic series of 3D Chrome Robots. The first to be painted on aluminium, they salute the vulnerability and compelling strength of women, and were featured at SEGA World in London for a number of years. The robots remain one of his most popular images among a fan base that is ever expanding. High profile celebrities. Other artists. Even Banksy is an enthusiast. ‘I thought he was a pizza delivery boy’ says Paul of his passing encounter in the lobby of a Brighton PR office. Quite what the Bristol boy thought of the London boy remains unknown, but Banksy was unequivocal about the art – becoming the proud owner of an Incredible Hulk Artist Proof. Paul is honoured to have been licensed by MARVEL to create some of their most popular Superheroes.

Such is the demand for his work, Paul is already pre-selling before the Icons show opens on 22nd October at St Pauls Gallery, Birmingham – with future exhibitions to be held in Berlin, St Petersburg, Monte-Carlo and Los Angeles. He plans to reveal some new originals, and present works from all collections: Sexy Girls, Chrome Robots, Iconic Cartoons, Superheroes, Hollywood Greats, and American Classic Cars. A rare gathering, assured to sate the desire of collectors, and fans, alike.

But while the business of his art is selling (originals fetch upwards of £76,000), its heart is about giving. Though his work may err on the dark side, Paul is less a cynic, than a humanitarian. His career highlight so far was meeting Nelson Mandela, and helping to raise money, and awareness for HIV by donating an original, and prints to schools around South Africa. It was humbling and emotional - especially when a young girl he met died of the disease. ‘It felt so unfair that such a beautiful, innocent person’s life could end so prematurely’ he reflects.’ It really made me realise even more, just how lucky we all are to be living the life we live’.

So in art; as in life, the journey continues. Paul’s innovative approach to painting follows no rules; his creative route pursues no set path. All that remains is to immerse further in the fragility of existence, and dig deeper. Always deeper…

Paul’s forthcoming Exhibition at St Pauls Gallery in Birmingham opens on 22nd October 2010 and due to public and media demand, it has now been extended to continue until December 2010.

St Pauls Gallery; 22nd October – December
94-108 Northwood Street, Birmingham B3 1TH.
T:0121-236-5800
E:info@stpaulsgallery.com
W:www.stpaulsgallery.com
For further show information, please contact us.’