Carl Melegari was born in North Wales of Italian parentage and now lives in Bristol, England. He graduated from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David with a BA Hons in fine art. Melegari held a lecturing post at the insitution for many years.
His contemporary approach to painting explores both the human form and the urban landscape. Melegari primarily focuses on th...e semi-abstraction within the figure and has become increasingly fascinated by the versatility of oil paint. His paintings arguably focus just as much on the medium of paint, and how it reacts with the surface, as they do on the subject of the painting. Carl admits that his work often produces a subject ‘who looks to be searching for his or her soul’, however his real passion lies in the medium of the paint itself.
Carl Melegari's style is unmistakably dramatic and unique, most recognized for its dripping downward pull. Despite the action and thickness of Melegari's surfaces, a figure still surges through with great gravity and surprising amounts of detail. Through the veils of layers, achieved by continuously accumulating and scraping back the paint, a figure emerges as if to suggest how the sitter itself has become enveloped and partly obscured by the energy of the paint.
The layers Melegari builds up, and the artist's tendency to rework a piece multiple times causes comparisons to be drawn with the likes of Auerbach and Freud; however, Melegari's style stands on entirely on its own as uniquely and distinctively his. Melegari's palette tends to be muted on the whole, with splashes of red or purple hues to make his subjects pop. Despite the near brooding nature of Melegari's subjects, the painter's works are among the most popular acquisitions for living spaces and the workplace.
The artworks have a sculptural quality which is born from layering and scraping back the paint in a technique rooted in French Impressionism. The dense impasto surface is created with palette knives, coarse paint brushes and fingers, allowing the paint to run and drip freely. This three dimensional element is no mistake. Melegari was directly inspired by the American artist Manuel Neri whose plaster figures have the same eerie but compelling qualities found in his own work.
Melegari, in his own words, describes his unique painting process:
“I begin by applying an oil turpentine tonal wash to the figure. I apply various impasto layers of oil paints (I mix an alkyd medium with the oil to enable a better drying process) using brush but predominately palette knifes. I occasionally scrape back layers and then I reapply liberally with vigour and attacking the canvas.
This is applied with bold applications of paint fused with thinned paint using either or sometimes a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine. All this allows the paint to interact with my application. I will allow the drips to run in different directions. The drying process can take weeks and quite often I will rework into the painting by peeling away and reworking the layers. I’m basically exploring the physicality of the paint and how it reacts with the surface - applying the paint liberally allowing it to drip spontaneously too.”
He has been exhibited internationally to critical acclaim and The National Library of Wales recently cemented his reputation when they acquired one of his oils for Wales’ National Collection.