Carl Melegari’s paintings explore the language of form and colour through the physicality of paint. Ahead of his new show at Edgar Modern, Aesthetica talk to that artist about the literal and figurative layers within his works, and the curatorial collaboration which has taken place between the artist and the gallery.
A: In your works there is a certain textural quality to the paint which you apply, could you talk about how the physical detail of the medium is important to you?
CM: The textural quality of the medium is important to me as it enables me to visually simulate and bring to surface the raw emotion of creativity, making tangible the inanimate. This physically embodies the spirit in which I paint.
A: The pieces incorporate recognisable images of the human figure, which are abstracted due to the particular application of the paint. Is there a conceptual element to the form?
CM: As I am particularly intrigued by the process of abstraction I don’t always plan in advance, it is sometimes better to let it just happen. When I feel the energy, that connection, the painting then evolves.
A: How do you think that expression is written into the role of the artist?
CM: For me, art is a means of externalising the inward, and it is the artist’s strife for self-expression, which is recorded and traced through painterly gestures and one’s handling of the paint.
A: Could you talk about your processes of revisiting paint – layering and reworking it – why do you think that it’s important for the artwork to be progressive in such a way?
CM: My work is open to revisiting. It is playful, reactive, curious and open to questioning the transitory of nature of life. The work has a breathability and flexibility to grow as if the painting itself is a living organism. This breathes and embodies the complexities of human emotion. Raw emotion to me continually evolves.
A: How is identity written into your practice, both as an artist and in the artworks themselves?
CM: Identity is written in many ways. The expressive qualities of the medium itself are able to record form, shape and colour, creating a figural imprint of my imagination at work. As an example, up close you can see a myriad of colours and pigment, at once revealing the complexities of the human psyche and my inner emotions at the time of painting.
A: Could you discuss the idea of connection or disconnection between yourself and the work you create; how do you see yourself within the paintings and how is there a process of alienation involved?
CM: A sense of alienation can occur through the process of abstraction, which whilst at the same time reveals the intimate and personal, also exposes elements of strangeness, fragmentation and otherness. It is this sense of ambiguity that can be disconcerting. It calls into question what we perceive and our sense of identification. Glimpses of self and other, difference between subject and object becomes visible, left stark and open to interpretation. Scraping back the paint confronts that which has been obscured.
A: How has working with Edgar Modern played a role in your development as an artist?
CM: Their continual support and belief in what I do, has helped develop my practice as an artist, enabling me to organically grow as an individual whilst also working as a team. In particular, it is Edgar Modern’s emphasis on maintaining transparency and integrity, which has created a strong foundation from which to build our successful partnership.
Edgar Modern has promoted my work through solo shows and on-going art fairs. Through their investment of time and energy into my art, they have introduced my work to a larger audience, and have been instrumental in developing long-term relationships with collectors.
It is this on-going dialogue and strong working relationship which has been critical to my success as an artist.
A: What do you have planned in terms of future projects?
CM: My future projects will continue to evolve and develop the human form, thus experimenting and abstracting with the medium of paint. This includes a series of works based on the construction and deconstruction of one sole figure using male and female form.
Carl Melegari: Hidden Presence runs from 29 October until 10 November. Find out more: www.edgarmodern.com
1. Babette oil on canvas 91 x 91 cm. Courtesy of Carl Melegari and Edgar Modern Gallery.