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69 Degrees

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sixtynine degrees ~ 19th October 2010.

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'World famous super realism pop artist Paul Mellia whose work has been bought by street and graffiti artist Banksy, the late Princess Diana, Lisa Marie Presley, the pop star Seal, Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee and TV chat show host Jonathan Ross is bringing his full collection to the Midlands between the 22nd of October and the 24th December

Paul’s collections including Sexy Girls, Chrome Robots, Iconic Cartoons, Superheroes, Hollywood Greats, and American Classic Cars will all be exhibited at the St Paul’s Gallery in Birmingham throughout the Winter. The show is a rare and privileged gathering of fantastic works, assured to satisfy the desire of collectors, fans and art lovers alike.

We caught up with Paul to find out more about his show…

What artist would you say has inspired you the most throughout your work?

After doing a fine art degree you become very comfortable with the styles portrayed by different artists and it becomes difficult to distinguish exactly how each different artist has inspired and left an impression upon my work. I feel that I constantly take inspiration from a variety of classical artists like Rubin, Picasso and Gaudi but the biggest parallels and the artist whose work inspires the biggest admiration in me has got to be Andy Warhol. It was Warhol’s work that focussed me as a child and fuelled my passion for Americana after seeing Warhol’s work in books given to me as a child.

How would you describe your work?

My work is very contemporary, I enjoy working with celebrated icons – I love recreating iconic images but reworking them with my own interpretations. I think it’s fairly difficult to categorize my particular style as I aim to be somewhere in the middle of illustration and photographic painting. I love introducing an element of fantasy to my art by painting heroes – Super, Hollywood and Cartoon!

What kind of themes do you like to explore in your work?

Because of the fantastical elements of my work I like to try and paint the hero’s journey – showing all the layers of each hero and how they’ve ended up in the position they’re in. I don’t want my characters to appear one dimensional, take Catwoman for example; my goal was to paint her not only as a heroine, fighting for the good of mankind, but with a daring edge to her – demonstrating how powerful and intimidating she can also be. I like the truth to come out in my paintings.


So how did you get your big break?

While I was at college I entered a competition to do a window display at Harvey Nichols and won the opportunity to do produce all the artwork instore and in the windows. The bosses at Harvey Nichols were impressed with what I’d done and asked me if I’d stay on full time so I happily stayed there for about 2 years. I ended up leaving Harvey Nichols as a wealthy Arab business man came in one day asking to buy one of my pieces, Harvey Nichols wouldn’t sell the piece as it belonged to them so the business man approached me and offered me £40,000 for 2 weeks work – that was an offer I simply couldn’t refuse!


Tell us about your encounter with the real life Batman, Adam West?

I was at a party in Hollywood Hills a few years back when I was living in LA and a friend of mine introduced me to him. I was obviously in awe being in the presence of one of my heroes so when Adam told me he was a big fan of my work I thought I must be dreaming. Adam gave me an original cheque with a Batman signature on it to show what a fan he was and I ended up agreeing to work for him. Adam took me to the original Batman cave as a thank you for the work I did for him and I was allowed to spray my name on the wall inside the cave – it was unreal.

We hear you have also met Nelson Mandela?

Yes, what a brilliant man. Meeting Nelson Mandela has to be the highlight of my career so far and I’m not quite sure how it can be topped! I created some original artwork of some vintage motor racing vehicles with 4664 as the number plate in conjunction with Nelson Mandela’s charity. The artwork was auctioned helping to raise money and awareness for HIV, donating an original and prints to schools around South Africa. It was such a humbling and emotional experience, there was one young girl who had such a profound impact on me, seeing how the disease devastated her life felt so unfair as she was such a beautiful and innocent person, and because of this her life has ended so prematurely.

And you can count Banksy amongst your famous fans?

Yes, although I never actually got to meet him properly. He did walk past me in the lobby of a Brighton PR office but I just assumed he was a pizza delivery boy. Banksy is such an amazing and admired artist though, I really love what he does with his art, all the politics – it’s a great compliment to think he enjoys my work enough to buy a piece.'

by
Sixtynine Degrees