Pop art painter Pegasus joins forces with Attitude Gallery in Congleton

Pegasus and Attitude Gallery

Pegasus and Attitude Gallery - Credit: Archant

To some, it may seem an unlikely alliance, an art gallery in leafy Congleton and an American street artist, who is one aerosol can away from controversy. But like the ‘special relationship’ forged between the UK and USA, it works.

Amy Winehouse by Pegasus

Amy Winehouse by Pegasus - Credit: Archant

The artist is Pegasus, famed for his Banksy-esque depiction of icon Amy Winehouse, following her desperately sad and early death and for his uncanny likenesses of Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian, all of which have earned him comparisons with pop artist Andy Warhol.

It is these works which drew the attention of Congleton’s Attitude Gallery (a name they clearly don’t take lightly) and now they are preparing to stage his first Gods & Monsters exhibition in the north from December 10th.

The 32-year-old Chicago-born artist takes up the story: ‘A little bit over a year now they got in contact with me via twitter and said they were really interested in working with me. It resulted in them taking in my work and selling it in the gallery and they have been fantastic.

‘They got me some commissions and there seems to be a genuine interest in my work up in Cheshire which is why I will be heading there from my next exhibition in LA.’

Donald Trump by Pegasus

Donald Trump by Pegasus - Credit: Archant

He admits he’s excited about visiting the area, especially as he will get the chance to meet some of his patrons

‘I have quite a few new clients through the gallery,’ he reveals.

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‘One recent commission was from a man called John. They were three Princess Diana pieces which was a fantastic opportunity for me. I love the Royal family, being American. We all love the Royal family! And it’s one of those pieces I always wanted to do but because it is Princess Diana I was always hesitant – I thought I may get it wrong. So this was a fantastic opportunity to do this.’

Princess Diana isn’t the only Royal he’s painted. More recently he did a portrait of a pregnant Duchess of Cambridge that hit the headlines when it was snapped up by Johnny Depp for £25,000.

Cilla Black by Pegasus

Cilla Black by Pegasus - Credit: Archant

‘Yes, he bought that one and a portrait of the Queen I did wearing a Betty Paige leopard print bathing suit, which was quite fun,’ says Pegasus whose subjects also include Adele, Alexandra Burke and Alan Carr.

He works off photographs and says he prefers to use images he’s taken himself but often that just isn’t possible, however sometimes he is lucky to be able to get his subjects to sit for a portrait.

‘At the moment I’m doing a portrait of ‘Lisa Jane Riley who was on Strictly Come Dancing a couple of years ago,’ he says.

‘We did a sitting together and that will be on display in Cheshire. There are certain people who are open to sitting for me and then there are people like Lindsay Lohan who wanted me to work off her Playboy shoot – a take on the Pirelli calendar.’

It is however the street art which gets him noticed most of all – although he admits he’s no Banksy. He has an agent who makes sure that everything he does is replicated on canvas and sold through galleries like Attitude.

‘I’ve always been artistic as far as I can remember as a child and I am completely self-taught. I fell into street art by accident,’ he explains.

‘ I met Amy Winehouse on a few occasions and when I’d heard she had passed away it was one of those moments. I was going to paint her portrait so I was in an art shop looking at canvasses and paint when I just saw this spray can. I had never tried street art but I thought I’d try it this way. That was kind of the beginning. I did my very first piece and the next day it was mistaken for a Banksy. I thought I quite like this art form. Five years later I am still trying to improve my art form and techniques.’

He tagged the Winehouse painting Pegasus and the name stuck.

‘I’ve always been fascinated by Greek mythology and a few people – as an insult –used to call me horse face because I have a long face and I thought I’m going to call myself Pegasus so I put a little Pegasus tag on that piece, just as a laugh.

‘I didn’t really think about being anonymous like Banksy. It’s never really been an issue and I don’t feel the need to hide in the shadows either.’

He agrees that his work has evolved over the years becoming increasingly more political and he’s pulled no punches in his depiction of presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

‘I felt that I could get my message across on issues which I felt were important so my work has become a mixture of pop art and the political.

‘I have been so focused on the US elections. I’ve never seen anything like it. It has turned into a complete circus show. You’re kind of in the situation where you don’t trust either of the candidates but for me I’d rather have Hillary (Clinton) than Donald Trump. I just can’t bear the man. I think the world would be in serious danger if he was elected and it just blows my mind.’

To balance things out he’ll be working on a pro-Hillary Clinton piece when he visits LA but whether we will see the painting in Cheshire will all depend on the outcome of the American elections.

‘The elections are in November and can go either way,’ he says.

‘If we end up with Hillary that piece will be on display in Cheshire. If not it will just be the anti Donald Trump piece.’

Exhibiting at the Attitude Gallery also allows him to bring his radical brand of art to Congleton – a place probably more associated with gentle watercolour scenes than controversial subject matter.

‘I want to travel around the UK putting my work up into various places in the country and hopefully introduce a new form of art in surprising areas. Places you wouldn’t normally see it,’ he says.

‘I kind of have these moments where I sit in my own little world and think of something tongue in cheek and then when I get a reaction I think that maybe I didn’t think that one through.

‘But maybe that’s what art’s all about. It’s about starting conversations getting people thinking about the art world and the piece. I am a gentle person but like to push the envelope with my pieces.’

Attitude Gallery, 2a Swan Bank Congleton, CW12 1AH 01260 299143, attitudegallery.co.uk