Michael Mellia attended Columbia University and lives and works in New York. The paintings address identity, masculinity, pleasure, surrealism, and existentialism in the digital age. They have been featured by MOMA San Francisco, Art Museum of South Texas, Contemporary Art Collectors, Larry’s List and more.
What initially compelled you to create your work?
I’m compelled by the strange feeling of watching yourself paint a painting without consciously trying. The sense of time is compressed and by the end there’s a discovery. To me paintings are enigmas--like an invisible hand that’s writing a poem. I love this process and its beauty and the sensuality of oil paint itself.
What main topic does your artwork address and why?
The paintings address identity, masculinity, pleasure, desire, surrealism, and existentialism in the digital age. The figures’ identities seem to be dissolving inside quadrant-based landscapes while enjoying oranges lemons and pears within a flat perspective. I also love art history and painters like Hockney, Van Gogh, and the surrealists, and it’s interesting to me to find my own voice while continuing in this legacy. I think the viewers can interpret these paintings in many different ways.
In your artistic journey, what has been the most challenging point thus far?
The most challenging point was not learning how to paint, but learning how to be in the right frame of mind to paint--how to let things happen on their own inside the painting and how not to force things that disrupt the flow of the painting revealing itself. Doctors who were measuring the brain waves of athletes in “flow” states discovered that the brain switches to a different form of consciousness known as alpha waves, and that people move in and out of this frame of consciousness.
Is there an aspect of your life that especially impacts your practice?
I’m always trying to transform the vibe of an experience that I’ve had or the vibe of a person that I know into something universal. I think the paintings feel enigmatic because they’re visual representations of things that are so intangible. I think we have all felt like the figures in these paintings in our lives at some point.
What do you do when you find yourself at a creative block?
I grew up playing musical instruments and being in love with jazz and classical music. John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis always inspire me with their level of expressiveness and their effortless flow.