Painter Whohas Popular Culture Downto Fineart; Dawn Collinson Meets the Liverpool Artist Dubbed theAndyWarhol of His Generation

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Byline: Dawn Collinson

HIS paintings have hung next to Picasso and Hockney, and one critic even bestowed him with the potentially onerous tag of the Warhol of his generation.

But it's the humble burger, albeit one captured in vivid perfection, that has given Liverpool pop artist Dave White a new global accolade.

Dave was one of a group of artists hand-picked from around the world by US internet giant AOL to celebrate their 25th anniversary and re-brand.

"I wanted to choose an iconic image because when you're dealing with a company with as much history and presence as AOL you want to match it," he explains. "I'd done a whole series based on delicious fast food so I put forward a cheeseburger and they loved it."

So much so, in fact, that they flew the 39-year-old and his fellow artists out to New York for an exhibition at the New Museum of Contemporary Art.

Then it was on to Los Angeles and the All Things Digital conference where he found himself on an impressive guest list alongside Avatar director James Cameron and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

"They'd made a 30ft by 30ft cheeseburger and I painted there, live, for three days," recalls Dave. "I think, like any artist, when I do what I do I just go into the zone and I'm in my own little bubble, but I love having the opportunity to meet people.

"It's a massive honour to do that kind of thing and I'm a big gadget fan so to be in that kind of environment was amazing."

Certainly, a look around Dave's warehouse studio in the Baltic Triangle confirms his devotion, not only to gadgetry but a whole range of pop culture paraphernalia.

Although the walls are lined with his own works, both complete and in progress, shelves are stacked with Japanese models, collectible comic books and well worn old Hot Wheels cars he's bought on ebay. The latter are one of his quirkier projects and have been variously oil painted, stacked and white-coated into a mini sculpture and gilted.

In the adjoining studio, where most of the physical painting actually takes place, there are floor to ceiling boxes of classic trainers.

Some, he explains, are pretty valuable; all are worn. Dave is strictly opposed locking them away in cases, even the one-offs and vintage rarities.

Although he's been an avid collector since he was a lad growing up in Crosby -"it was the whole Liverpool casuals thing" -his stock soared in 2002 after one painting led to his first huge commercial collaboration.

"I made an image of a Nike Air Max 95 which got on the cover of Creative Review magazine and from that it just exploded," he smiles.

"I ended up working with Nike and being jetted around the world. I started this whole thing based on sneaker art and it just went crazy. I would never have believed the things I saw and the places I went to. Nike even flew me out to the Great Wall of China to do an event with two graffiti legends.

"But I think, as an artist, you have to embrace every opportunity that comes your way. I've never had a personal game plan, I didn't start painting Jordan shoes so Nike would like them, and I had no idea it would takeme to the places it did.

"The work wasn't any different to what I would have done anyway. …