Showcasing more than 400 acclaimed and up-and-coming artists from 45 of the UK’s leading galleries, Fresh: Art Fair is set to offer art fans an impressive feast for the eyes when the brand new contemporary art showcase takes place this spring.
Heading to Cheltenham Racecourse from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 May 2017, Fresh: Art Fair, visitors can expect to see pieces, ranging from prints to sculptures, brought together from the UK’s best contemporary galleries.
In this exclusive interview, SoGlos chats to Fresh: Art Fair's featured artist and Gloucestershire resident Paul Oz about the importance of the contemporary art event, his unique style and the inspiration behind his impressive works of art.
I was based in Bishops Cleeve until last year but recently we moved out near Staunton for more space, peace and quiet, and a purpose-built studio.
I was alright at school, although perhaps didn’t conform enough to get good grades. I won a prize for something quite young, and did an art college course in the holidays aged 15, but with only grade C at GCSE, I was persuaded to follow a more academic route and went on to study aerospace engineering instead.
It was 15 years later I picked up a paintbrush again, and managed to sell I think the third painting I did to a friend, which focused my mind somewhat. My first gallery show was a few years later in 2008, and after being made redundant from my ‘proper job’ in 2009, I focused on art full time. It’s been bonkers ever since.
Initially just to create something for my plain white rented flat. I started with abstracts, and then decided to celebrate the things that I love, like Star Wars and F1. I guess I also had the fairy tale vision of what life as an artist could be like. I’m not sure I realised how hard I would have to work, certainly no time to meet friends for lunch in the week like I thought!
I guess you could call it heavily textured impressionist pop art. Most paintings are 2cm thick in places, loads of energy, aiming for a 3D impression. Most of my work by choice are portraits, I love painting animals too which is really relaxing by comparison. If I’m painting an elephant and get it 20 per cent wrong it’s still an elephant, but if you get a face 20 per cent wrong it’s unrecognisable.
Commission wise, I will agree to as many as I can. Being largely self-taught, I learn most from paintings where I’m pulled outside of my comfort zone.
Almost exclusively oil paint with a pallet knife. I’ve been using the same one for seven years and it’s as flexible as thin card and incredible to use. It’s been re-welded twice, but I’m going to be totally stuffed when it finally gives up one day! I also create sculptures from F1 components.
F1 is probably half of my subject matter, initially by choice, but subsequently led by demand, and I’m regularly part of events now with the F1 circus all over the world. I’m a big movie fan, lifelong sportsman, and associate much of my mindset with a decade playing with Lego as a kid!
The greatest thing about painting portraits is the emotions involved with a particular icon or moment I’m marking, which can mean so much to someone.
Not one specific gallery, I have a wide network of galleries around the UK, I guess with a few favourites where I’ve had solo show’s in the past, like The Paragon Gallery in Cheltenham, Imitate Modern London, and Cloud Galleries in Brighton where my next show launches at the end of April.
Meeting new people! That’s what it’s all about. I’m slightly worried about live painting for three days straight, I struggle with RSI a bit and have to work around that – but self preservation will be all going out the window!
Most certainly, with The Paragon Gallery Cheltenham.
There are several galleries I don’t know of at all which I’m really looking forward to! Naturally I’d lean towards those who show work in a similar vein to my own, like Olivia Connelly and Gormley’s.
I really can’t wait! Smack in the middle of my busiest month every year between annual rugby and F1 events, but there’s no way I could miss the opportunity of being part of such an awesome new event so close to home – I used to live a mile from the racecourse.
The impression is that there are a few hotspots of art around the UK but really I think it’s evenly spread out, if you were to put London to one side at least. There are incredible artists and galleries all over and most certainly in Gloucestershire. Any means to celebrate that is awesome.
Go with your gut instinct, what talks to you, and what you’d love to have on the wall. Don’t think of investment as such, but rather the artist’s story, and it’s impossible to make a mistake.
I can’t have my own work on the wall, but for sure I collect other work that inspires me, or has a story. I have some original Star Wars storyboard sketches which are really cool. Some pop art by Ben Allen and Danko, and some more serious works by Lindsey Kustusch and Jonathan Ford.
Be prepared to work hard. If success as you imagine it comes, you’ll have to work near every waking hour. Never lose sight that it’s a business and with demand comes a schedule, deadlines, suppliers, accounts and tax bills. But, at the same time, stick to your principles creatively and be true to yourself.
Being personable and able to work with business partners and galleries is more important than how good your work is, so stay humble, there are other artists queuing up behind you for any opportunity. Always try to put yourself in a gallery’s position to try to understand their perspective.
Tuesday 28 March 2017
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