21-year-old artist and model Meleyna is one of the youngest talents in our Alternative Realities series. The focus is on Melenyna’s paintings, which are not only beautifully crafted, but also visualise the story of our recent Lockdown year very accurately and sensitively, but with a certain humour behind it. TITLE spoke to her about surrealism, the inspiration her family gives her and how she is getting through this challenging time.
How did / do you stay on track and creative during the pandemic?
Mindfulness. I’m most creative when I focus on the things that impact my
life or the life of others. To do this, I deal a lot with myself and get
involved with my feelings in order to visualize them into artworks.
The current time allows me to start the day calmly, read a lot, discover
music and go out into nature, which supports that process.
Besides that, I also stay focused on learning new things, for example
working with clay, which I discovered during the pandemic. I love the
tangibility of this – the modelling and shaping, where I can let myself go
and find harmony.
Please introduce yourself briefly and let us know what you usually
My name is Meleyna (Melissa H.) I’m an 21 years old artist and model
from Berlin. I grew up between a small industrial city in west Germany
and the Caribbean – my mother is Afro-Cuban, and my father has
German-Dutch roots. Art was always a part of me. I have been painting
since I was four years old, inspired by my grandpa who painted, as well
as my uncle who was an artist, and my father who introduced me to
painting. At the moment I work with acrylics and clay, in addition to
analog art, I also illustrate and work on video productions.
Surrealism is a great inspiration for you, why is that?
Since I investigate a lot with psychology and human behavior in my free
time, I find the he translation of psychology and art into surrealism exciting,
and the movement in general very interesting.
Influenced by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis, was it supposed to express
the unconscious and supernatural in the artist as much as possible.
,,A pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either
verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought.
Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason,
outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation..’’
What was your favorite project to date and why?
I guess I don’t have a favorite project yet, but I liked the process while
working on my painting ,,La ventana’’ a lot, which I painted in November
2020 when the second lockdown in Germany was announced.
During this time I had a great longing for freedom because I felt locked in.
The painting is supposed to represent a sea view from a fortress.
It is inspired by the window which can be seen behind the couch.
I felt as if I could only perceive the outside world through that window.
So I measured it and drew it true to the original on the canvas.
As I finished the painting, I found patience and was able to deal better with
the feeling of being locked in.
Some of your family members have inspired you a lot to paint. What
family stories can you tell us about them?
My grandfather lived through World War II and like all other German men, he
had to sign up as a solider. He never spoke about the terrible experiences
and traumas. Instead he painted beautiful, colorful landscapes
autodidactically and found joy and peace in painting, which inspired me a
lot. There’s also my dad – He’s not really an artist or a painter, rather a character,
who inspires me and also the people around him.
He collected music on records and CD’s from an early age, which is why I
had contact with music from all over the world as a child.
Sometimes we just chill and listen to EP’s.
He just lets you be yourself.
Another family member who influenced me was my uncle. We rarely saw
each other because he lived in northern Germany, but we kept in touch
through letters. When he saw that I was starting to paint too, he encouraged
me to never stop what I am passionate about. We regularly sent each other
letters and works.
As a child it was nice to know that someone saw the potential in me.
Your pictures are stylistically somewhat different from each other.
What is your personal red thread, if there is one?
I think right now there is no specific red thread, my artworks are all
influenced by various feelings, cultures and moments of my life.
But lets see, maybe there’s one one Day (-:
Any Artists you look up to ?
Yes! There’s Frida Kahlo that I look up to since im very young. She is known
for painting about her experience of chronic pain and also regarded as an
icon for Latin Americans, the feminism and the LGBTQ+ movement.
Or Georgia O’Keeffe, who was known for a distinctive style in all aspects of
her life and as much for her independent spirit and female role model and as
well for her dramatic and innovative works of art.
Even though her artworks may show elements of different modernist
movements, such as Surrealism, her work is uniquely her own style.
I also look up to work from painters like Fernand Khnopff, Ives Tanguy, Dalí
and as well musicians like Lana Del Rey and the band Khruangbin.
What is your advice for young artists trying to stand out in the
overflowing creative scene of 2020?
I think, first of all, it’s good to understand that it’s normal to feel pressure in
such an overflowing scene. So I would advise you to find your rhythm,
focus on your being and what you want to express. Don’t compare your art;
each of us is unique!