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You could attribute the most fanciful definition to art and still not feel satisfied. Many have actually waned out trying. Dali, Jackson Pollock, Monet and the list is endlessly exciting and sobering at the same time.
Interestingly, at a time where the world is becoming a propulsion of technology, social media and, amusing ideas that warrant investment as much as adulation, art continues to stand alone, undeterred by the onslaught of this uncanny mélange that often underestimates the power of art to produce ‘real time conversation’ or is quick to dub it aside as a culture which only the intellectuals dwell at.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur finishing the last PowerPoint slide for an investment pitch on a busy Paris train, or a Soccer addict bunking the science class in London, a painter submerged in mighty bouts of liquor in Tokyo, a Mexican housewife who makes trenchant criticisms of the hubby’s erratic working hours, a Brazilian kid who appreciates the goodness of life through that succulent candy stick or an Indian grandma who walks down the memory road admiring falling leaves- Art is a common language and a universal binder.
The artist’s job, defined in Midnight in Paris, a Woody Allen epic is to find an anti-dote to the existence of emptiness. At the same time, it is to bridge the gap between the unimagined and the unbelievable, the unthinkable and the admirable. In this linear trajectory, a thin line between genius and normal, that requires outwardly talent, sheer single-minded dedication and a focus hinging on high standards- Paul Oz has made the world a better place.
Paul is one of those gifted artists in whose ebb lies the responsibility to make the world a unique constellation of enchanting attributes. His work, broadly focused on people and achievements, sporting icons and memorable sojourns in history has the power to inspire lives.
Excerpts from a free-wheeling chat from the staidly elegant bloke.
Tell us about your work?
I always wanted to work for sure, but at 16 was persuaded that I should focus on Math and Physics where my grades were actually better than try to go to art college, and fundamentally a career where its difficult to make a living. I studied aerospace engineering at university and didn’t enjoy it in the slightest. I started painting in 2005, aged 29, at the same time as being a full time sales representative in Automotive parts, then IT systems. After being made redundant in 2009 it went from a part time hobby to full time focus. It wasn’t long before I settled on the style that I’m now known for, impressionist portraits, celebrating icons of pop culture and sport.
Which have been the most exciting challenges you’ve undertaken thus far?
I’m always excited tackling anything new, and being made to think. My favorite paintings are those I’ve had to fight for many days to get right. Painting ‘pretty’ doesn’t come easily in my style – its only recently I’ve been comfortable painting women. I’ve had a few commissions where I’ve been asked to convert a monotone image to color, that definitely made me think!
Are you a major sports or movies buff? How often do you undertake assignments around these domains?
Most definitely both, and almost entirely! Fundamentally I just paint what I’m in to – as a massive F1 fan it’s pretty surreal to live paint at races around the world, and to be able to call known personalities around the sport actual friends. I’m a big Star Wars and Marvel fan too, big enough that I have movie accurate wearable Iron Man and Storm trooper suits standing in my TV room! Probably 80% of my work is based around F1 or movies icons.
What are the key challenges in the area of your work and how do you tackle those?
It can be tough to stay motivated with deadlines meaning that I have to force myself to be creative regularly, but once I actually start painting, it’s always okay. It’s definitely a job, no matter how much I enjoy it. RSI is actually an issue too, I’ve been seeing a physio every fortnight for many years already – it becomes an issue on live painting trips where I’m often painting much more intensely than at home. If you ask my Mrs., she’ll say getting paint on everything! No matter how careful I am, changing shoes twice between the studio and house, it always sneaks in somewhere. We’ve tiled the entire ground floor now as carpets are impossible. The biggest challenge though is making sure that I make time to actually paint. It’s so easy to spend all day travelling, typing or talking about what I do, instead of actually doing it.
A dream project you wish to undertake?
I have to be honest, there aren’t many left on my bucket list! As a life long cyclist, being commissioned by Brad Wiggins was pretty monumental for me! As was live painting with Jenson Button to mark his last race in Abu Dhabi a few months ago. I’ve been commissioned by a lot of famous people in the UK, but not really anyone massive in Hollywood yet. I’m working on it…
Is it really that tough to surge ahead in a creative domain in today’s culture and expanse? Or is too much similarity creating creative enterprises a bit saturated.
There are a lot of guys trying to do that same thing for sure! I just try to keep my head down and not take too much notice though. You need to be doing something unique to stand out definitely. I think the timing of my career with social media was fortunate, I got up and running and building a fan base when social media was still quite young. It’s a lot tougher to get noticed now.
Please talk us through the extent of your incorporating digital media in your work process.
I work entirely referencing digital images, the vast majority of my research is online, and I paint with a laptop at head height to reference, but entirely freehand from there.
Which is the most popular social media you use and why?
Facebook I think because of the easy sharing so word spreads fast, it’s visual, and posts hand around for a while on followers timelines. Twitter I’ve always struggled with – you have to invest a lot more time in it being so short lived and immediate, and images don’t stand out as well. Instagram I love and have met some incredible people through, but sharing doesn’t really work I think. Facebook, unfortunately, you now need to pay for followers to see posts, it’s a shame they moved the goal posts on that one! But it’s still my platform of choice. I think they do all work nicely together though.
What inspires you the most Paul?
To capture moments in history, and create work around them that makes people so emotive. There’s nothing better than making grown men cry unveiling a painting. And to gain new experiences, the more bizarre the better!
Any instances or idols or people who have moved you and inspired you to do great.
Ayton Senna, every time. I could paint Senna every week, and sell it every week. I only don’t because the pieces need to be special, so I try and limit myself to two or three a year. I’m honored that I created some work with his family and InstitutoAyrtonSenna in Sao Paulo. Such a legend!
Your favorite F1 guy from the contemporary era is Jenson Button. Why?
As a big F1 fan, and of anything British, I’ve been painting Jenson from the start. My first painting that wasn’t abstract was of him when he won his first F1 race in 2006. The big moment came in 2014 when I painted Jenson in his pink helmet that he wore to commemorate his dad that Jenson bought himself to hang in his Monaco apartment. And then also used the image for his Christmas card that year! Absolutely blew me away with that one. Then to sign off as it were, live painting with Jenson in Abu Dhabi on top of McLarens hospitality unit in the paddock, bonkers.