If you close your eyes, what do you see? – Mel Elston-Mendones

If you close your eyes, what do you see? – Mel Elston-Mendones

The original language of this article is English. If you read it in another language, it means it is an automatic translation.

by Madalina Dragos

Mel Elston-Mendones is a British, Filipino, and Latin artist who creates by guided intuition and by those subtle elements that light leaves on the retina, transforming light sensations, and emotions, into extraordinary visual compositions, true metamorphoseable spaces depending on the direction from which they are viewed, spaces full of potential that stimulate our imagination.

“I believe beauty is everywhere!”

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Interview:

Q: When did you realize that you want to paint what you see with your eyes closed?

A: I realised that I wanted to paint what I saw when I close my eyes after I had been painting my Covid 19 paintings.

I was coming from a place, where I and the world were going through a global trauma. I lost friends and family to Covid 19 and I was not able to attend funerals. I had to suffer trauma and self-isolation. I needed to look within myself and find places where I could find solace, peace, happier times, and spaces. I realised that when I sometimes want to close out the world when it gets too much I close my eyes. I had not been meditating for a while as I felt disconnected. I needed to reconnect.

I realised that I was accessing something that is truly authentic and real to me. For as long as I can remember when I was young, I would have a ‘siesta’, sometimes I found it hard to sleep during the day! So, I would often pretend that I was sleeping. Instead, I was interested in the lights, sounds, movements, colours that I could see behind my eyes. As I did this regularly, I was able to choose these different things and make up my own images.

I had not said that I was able to do this and kept it to myself for a long time, as I thought that if I said it I would be ridiculed and told to stop saying silly things. As I begin to accept myself and I paint and I am creative as my main way to express myself, I channeled it into my art. I am now realising that by sharing this, people are appreciative and share their experiences with me and really do understand when I discuss this. There is always a light bulb moment when I assist them on this journey.

Q: In some of your compositions you paint what you see behind your eyelids. My question is what do you think when are you painting these “phosphenes”, where your thoughts are at the very moment of painting, on the techniques, on the subject of your imagination, or on a different result?

A: A very interesting question, my inspiration comes from so many different directions. My mood, my energies, and internal and external factors. When meditating, I am trying to clear my mind of thoughts and processes and focus on breath and space. Therefore, trying to not have any thoughts.

Sometimes during this process, I do focus on a particular issue, mood, feeling, or subject. Sometimes I enter meditation with no thoughts and they come to me when I am meditating, I am trying to calm my ‘monkey brain’, ‘the chatter’ as I am trying to seek clarity.

When I have a subject in mind and I want to put it onto canvas, I have to work quickly to capture the essence. Sometimes, it comes out like a stream of consciousness. I try to capture the purity and the authenticity of the thought, and image.

Sometimes, it is creative visualisation that leads me to capture this on canvas.

Sometimes, I have come out of meditation, and I let the paint and the ink, guide me and I am a channel from which the universe is directing me on the canvas or paper.

Sometimes, I awake in the morning and after having dreamt, I am ready to transfer this onto canvas.

Sometimes, I pray, and after praying, a revelation appears and I am ready to channel this onto canvas.

Overall, I see my Phosphenes as a physical exploration of consciousness. Where is the line between the conscious mind and the conscious? Between the consciousness of the waking mind and the sleeping mind? Between meditation and conscious thought? Coma and the transition from life to death? While all of these questions and ideas inform my work, I don’t hold them consciously in my mind while painting, they are simply there, in the background.

I see these liminal places, the spaces between thought and no thought, as the places where all ideas and culture are birthed, so I see my Phosphenes both as a literal visual representation of what I physically see when I close my eyes and as a metaphorical visual representation of the primordial soup from which ideas emerge.

Q: What do you think about the Universe?

A: I think the universe is internal and external. I hope that with my art I have been able to touch the universal subconscious and channel it into my art.

Q: Which living or dead artist would you like to be your teacher?

A: Joan Miro.

Q: Which is that emotion that triggers your creativity? What is inspiring you during the creative process and to create?

A: All of them. Many things inspire me during the creative process, inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere.

Q: Which living or dead artist would like to have dinner with and why?

A: I would like to have dinner with Frederico Garcia Lorca. The depth of his expression in his poems is so beautiful and profound.

Q: What do you think about fashion in general?

A: Style, is a personal expression, New ideas and concepts can influence this, we are always evolving. Fashion is a form of this evolution.

Mel Elston - Mendones

Q: Do you have a pet?

A: Yes. I believe animals and plants have souls.

This is where I get inspiration to inform my nature-based paintings.

Q: What was the happiest day in your life?

A: My wedding day

Q: Which is the hardest part as an artist?

A: Not having enough time to create.

Q: What color do you like?

A: Orange

Mel Elston – Mendones
Q: I would like to ask you what do you think about light? What is your opinion about black and white?

A: Light is very important in my art. It is essential that I am working in good light.

I use a lot of both black and white in my art, I look at positive and negative spaces when composing my art. It helps with balance or imbalance. It is one of the keys to my artistic language.

Q: What style do you think represents you?

A: You tell me what style you think represents me?

Q: You oscillate between decorative and non-figurative. Some of the compositional elements in your compositions remind me of totems, are you inspired by tribal art?

A: I am a child of people who has fought for freedom and my art explores the interplay between physical and spiritual freedom and bondage. Both down and dirty and hopeful and transcendent, it explores identities, culture, and societal constructs; My work is both visceral and guttural, I am inquisitive, and I ask questions that lie just under the surface, I present a discourse on the values of humanity.

In my earlier works, I have explored Philippine myths and legends, it is my responsibility and duty to bring forward my multi-culture. I believe, it is a very important part of my artistic practice to pay respect and gratitude to my ancestors whether it be Filipino or Spanish.

In one of my current series of works, Caras and Eye See You, I revisit faces and contemporaries and current society fashions and expressions.

Q: Which artist has influenced you the most in your art?

A: Picasso. In May 2022, I visited the Picasso Museum in Malaga and I have a deeper appreciation of him as an artist.

Q: Do you think that artists create from their own suffering?

A: Yes, I also think that artists create from their contentment and happy place.

Q: Around your works, I saw many times “mind/body/soul”. What do you think about the soul?

A: The soul is very important to me just as important as the physical being. This is where my creativity comes from. I must create from here. It is energy, it is the life force, why do we exist if we do not have a soul. Personality, ethics, philosophy, and humanity are from here.

It is the purest and highest part of ourselves, this is what connects us to each other. It is our part of the universe and its consciousness to tap into this we are tapping into our best version of ourselves. I create intuitively and I am guided by this. The soul is omnipresent it is a teacher as well as the student, it is the creator, the holy spirit. Both being Christian and also in meditation the soul it is.

Q: Where do you think that the soul is placed, and what kind of shape do you see for it?

A: I think that the soul is placed both internally and externally, internally as we are all individual, and externally, we are all connected to mother Earth, if we continue to expand it, we are connected to the universe and therefore to God.

Energy emanates from within; creativity is a form of this energy. Energy and thus soul moves and pulsates from different parts of the body like chakras and meridians.

Meditation which is informing current phosphene works enables me to access this and channel through my eyes and hands and I am channel to accessing the Universal consciousness through this. Like a portal.

Q: So do you think that the soul spins like an electron around the atom?! And it is moving inside and outside of us!?

A: Yes, like nucleus. Physiologically it is the synapses interacting with the hippocampus of the brain.

Q: Are you afraid of darkness?

A: I am not afraid of darkness. I have been in dark places in both my life and my mind many times. This has informed me in areas of my artistic practice as can be seen in my Covid 19 paintings. Am I afraid of the dark, that is another question?

Q: Do you believe in angels?

A: Yes, I believe in angels.

Where does intuition come from? -To me, intuition has led me to God and belief and faith.

Q: What is that advice to give to anyone who wants to make the world more beautiful?

A: Go for it!

Mel Elston – Mendones

Visual analysis:

by Madalina Dragos

Mel’s compositions mostly non-figurative are genuine expressions of feelings and sentiments that, through the language of abstract signs, allude to reality, in which the viewer can perceive only that reality suggested by his own imagination.

In the figurative compositions, we find anthropomorphic, vegetal, and zoomorphic motifs, organized in an inverted perspective used in abstract painting.

He uses mixed media techniques to obtain his unique compositions through their multiple reading modes (they can be rotated clockwise, for example, with each rotation we can find a new interpretation of the reality suggested by the artist).

In his compositions, the full dominates, and the modulated line is most often used as a passageway but also as a construction element.

His line separates, surrounds, builds, and in the non-figurative compositions creates the impression of macro universes viewed from a very high altitude or micro universes viewed from a very short distance.

Mel in the figurative compositions with flat stains, transforms the abstract into decorative, some of them resembling stained glass.

The predominant is the Linear rhythm, variable in the non-figurative compositions, but we also find the rhythm of the shapes and colors in the figurative ones.

The element of plastic language that gives unity to the compositions is, as the case may be, the line or the color.

I can’t say exactly what kind of compositions can be (closed/open; static/dynamic) since they are meant to be read from different directions.

Mel uses painterly matter to obtain certain textures but also to articulate the plastic space in a balanced way.

In most compositions, the chromatic palette used is the major one but we also find compositions with the simple or melodic chromatic palettes.

The chromatic dominant gives unity to the compositions emphasizing the expressiveness and significance of their character (joy, sadness, peace, agitation, memories, sensations, ancestry, places, people, emotions, fantasies).

We can speak of an inverted perspective, also based on the colors used by Mel (golden / silver) thus appearing an unreal space that rather suggests the schematic presence of some micro/macro universes, which can also be interpreted as a suggestion of some divine energies, in his compositions.

Juxtaposing color spots, Mel makes dynamic proportions, with the intention of recreating/suggesting the three-dimensional space, taking into account the shade of color spots, their saturation, and size, accuracy is replaced by the effect of emotion.

Through his compositions, Mel proposes an interactive artist/viewer, interpretation with multiple valences for understanding the visual message.

Mel’s art is a visual kaleidoscope filled with an infinity of emotions and feelings, maps that can lead us to less researched spaces and inner awareness.

Mel Elston-Mendones has works published in Bruxelles Art Vue art book “Human Body is Art 2021”

Beuxelles Art Vue publication of Mel Elston Mendones

Publications and exhibitions:

Solo exhibitions:
  • 2011 Letchworth Art Gallery, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
  • 2013 National Trust, Sutton House, London, United Kingdom
Group exhibitions:

2011

  • Royal College of Art, London (Art for Youth), United Kingdom

2012

  • Westmill, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
  • Cottered, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
  • Letchworth, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

2019

  • Worthing Open Art Houses, United Kingdom
  • Worthing, West Sussex Arundel, West Sussex (A1 Gallery), United Kingdom
  • Chichester, West Sussex Brighton, East Sussex (A1 Gallery), United Kingdom

2020

  • Epsom Racecourse Esher, Surrey (A1 Gallery), United Kingdom

2021

  • Worthing, West Sussex, United Kingdom
  • Expo Metro, Monaco
  • SwissExpo, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Hackney, London (Holy Art Gallery, virtual exhibition), United Kingdom
  • California, USA (Las Iguanas Gallery)
  • A1 Gallery, United Kingdom

2022

April

  • Leslie Galerij, Amsterdam
  • Urbanside Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Las Laguna Gallery, Laguna beach, California, USA
  • A1 Gallery, United Kingdom

May

  • Biennale Artbox Expo, Artbox, Tana Art Space, Venice, Italy
  • Thomson Gallery, Zug, Switzerland
  • Lelie Galerij, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Best of the best, Las Laguna Gallery, California, USA
  • Kira art gallery, Canada and Barcelona, Spain
  • A1 Gallery, United Kingdom
  • Portal, Echos Studio, Sao Paulo, Brazil

June

  • Portal, Echos Studio, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • ExpoMetro, Los Angeles, USA
  • Artists’ Talk Magazine, Times Square / Broadway, New York, USA
  • Artbox, Tana Art Space, Venice, Italy
  • Lelie Galerij, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Urbanside Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland

July

  • Parallax Art Fair, Kensington, London, United Kingdom

August

  • Colonnade House, Worthing, United Kingdom
  • Zurich 4.0, SwissExpo, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Thomson Gallery, Zug, Switzerland
Publications

2021:

  • Artists’ Talk Magazine, London, United Kingdom
  • Bruxelles Art Vue, Brussels, Belgium
  • Antología de Arte III, Madrid, Spain
Achievements
  • 2002- Royal Society of Art Shortlisted Finalist, United Kingdom
  • 2022- Kira art gallery, Canada and Barcelona, Spain -Winner of the best ‘intermixture’ category




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