Dawn Mellor is a British artist whose paintings depict distorted portraits of popular figures within society. Mellor has created a large body of work of small portraits each including either/or philosophy, famous figures and cultural references. The individual is prevalent in Mellor’s paintings as their identity is either enhanced or subverted. Often the figures are consumed in popular culture and overwhelmed in excess, a commenting perhaps of these popular figures themselves as well as the creative industries that support them. The selection process for these celebrity icons is random, but are often found from the internet and magazines. Mellor’s work is rich with messages and are used to challenge cliches and stereotypes as well as to express her political opinions. For example, the pieces involving Dorothy from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ – ‘Dead Dorothy’, ‘Partisan Dorothy’, ‘Death Army Dorothy’, ‘Yellow Bricks Dorothy’, ‘Cigarette Dream Dorothy’ – is a satirical protest and rhetoric used to talk about various issues and circumstances such as terrorism in the USA and women’s labour.
Mellor’s work is also resistant to the collector market as she has commented that as she works with paintings, she was expected to produce work constantly. This along with general feelings of simply being a ‘filler’ for galleries helped contribute to her feelings of frustration with the system. I found it particularly interesting that through this irritation, Mellor still found ways to maintain parts of herself and her unique style in her work. Often phones are visible in her paintings as if the figures are all secret conspirators, in a sense, removing the gallery from the world of the painting; the gallery is not privileged to all information. Similarly, The gaze of figures are sometimes fixed on one another, so the paintings are not solely individual but always remain part of a collection. This atmosphere of paranoia and anxiety could have been something that Mellor thought whilst being in what she perceives as a hostile space. In this way, Mellor always becomes part of the work she produces rather than a machine expected to manufacture profit from work she is not wholeheartedly passionate about. This form of protest outside of the work itself resonated me and made me aware that I should make work that I feel connected to, rather then create something that is expected of me.