Painting feels natural to him. He started when he was just a child, and he didn’t feel afraid at all when, being only 11, was accepted at an art school for adults. What Mike Dargas does is out of the conventional lines. This Germany-based artist experiments with different kinds of liquids, spread all over the models' faces, to make large-scale portraits – and the result is beyond anything we can imagine. When words aren’t enough, we’ll always have art like his.
Hello, Mike. Tell us a little about yourself. Would you describe yourself as an artist, more than any other thing?
I started painting as a child, so yes, I'm an artist more than anything else.
When you were 11 years old, you got accepted at an art school, in a class for adult people. How was this experience for you – both personally and professionally?
Looking back, I'm wondering why the other grown ups didn't intimidate me at all. I just went there to paint – it felt pretty natural.
You have a very unique realistic style, basically composed by large-scale, oil on canvas portraits. One of their most visible features is the depiction of different liquids. Is it a way of constant experimentation?
It is, yes. Adding a material to my portraits is a tool I use in my current series. The series started in 2014 and developed very playfully, right now I witness a process of transformation in my latest works, figuratively and conceptually.
In which way do you combine your painting work with photography? Which kind of photographic characteristics do you adopt the most on your paintings?
Since I started using liquids, I also use photography as a part of the preparation. It definitely helps capturing the running liquids and allows playing around with the material. Also, I am fascinated by stylistic devices like blur, depth of field and exposure. I guess these are amenities of today's artists.
What do you look for on the faces you choose to paint? Is there a specific reason why you paint mostly women?
The current series focuses on women. As an artist, I engage myself with certain topics for a while until I move on to the next. But I am also painting male counterparts for my upcoming solo show in London, in summer 2016.
In which way has your art evolved the most along the years?
Art should naturally transform. In my case, the last big move happened in 2014, when I started painting the female portraits with liquids. It was more of a turning point than a development. Before that, my works were very dark and melancholic. Today they are light, showing beauty and strength.
How long does it take you to complete one of your portraits? I can suppose that it is neither an easy nor a quick task. Is there any moment when you feel blocked?
Trouble with friends or family can distract me from painting. In general I spend the whole day working on several parallel works, so I can't really say how long a work takes.
One of the main reasons why most artists do what they do is the way they feel when working. How do you feel when painting?
I am an autodidact and never attended any art academies, so becoming an artist was not a conscious decision. I paint since I was a child, I went to museums on my own and even in my job as a tattoo artist I focused on portraits as I do now. Of course it is a way to express myself, but more than anything, my intention is to paint.
You have said that many of your referents are masters like Dalí or Caravaggio. What do you admire the most of their kind of art and legacy? Do you have any living idol?
Caravaggio and Dalí were the reason why I focused on realism. I love their work and have admired them since I was a child. I still feel connected to them through my own artwork, and see what I do as a further development. Of course I also admire living artists, but the Old Masters were pioneers and visionaries of their times.
Do you think there is a moment when we achieve all the possible knowledge of some topic, and we simply have to move on? Do you expect to reach a particular goal?
Every single work I do is better than the one before, it is a constant development but it has no limit, never. But there might be areas as an artist more interesting than others – then it's time to move on.
What are you working on right now, and where can we find you in the near future?
Right now I'm preparing works for the Art Karlsruhe fair, a presentation of three new pieces showing my muse and my upcoming solo show in London this summer. I will share every update with you on Instagram.