Q&A | Mike Dargas
Mike Dargas is a hyper-realist and multifaceted artist. Born in Cologne, Dargas found his talent for drawing in adolescence, mesmerized by the likes of Salvador Dali, Caravaggio, and HR Giger. After working as a tattooist in his early twenties, Mike began to refine his passion for high art, focusing on the trompe-l’œil technique.
Nowadays, Dargas plays with the eye of observers. From a distance, his works are undoubtedly photographic, but upon closer evaluation, the strokes of his painting softly emerge. His mastery extends much farther than picturesque work, with acute detailing and color-soaked nuances. While on view at Art Angels, Flaunt spoke with Mike to discuss the evolution of his career and artistry.
Your artworks are "photographic," in a sense that they resemble high-quality photos. How did you get to this level of artistic perfection?
I am a self-taught autodidact and learned through many different ways, sometimes through art books, the internet, and lots of practice.
You were a tattoo artist in the past. Was painting something you always wanted to do?
I've been an artist since I was a child. Sometimes even skipping school so I can go to the library to learn from art books or paint. I've always been interested in learning about different techniques. There were a few times I even painted on the floor in front of the infamous Dome Cathedral in Cologne, my hometown in Germany. Tattoo art for me was simply another method to express. At that time in my life, it was lucrative work and helped me perfect my hyper-realistic technique.
Would you say that you had a lot of artistic influences early on in your life?
I didn't really have any artistic influences around me. I always felt like I was the only one. Just recently my mom started to paint, so I think it's just in the blood.
Where do you get the inspiration for your paintings, and how do you choose your subjects?
I always choose people who inspire me. Whether through their inner or outer beauty, their expression captivates me, and so makes my art more interesting.
What is the "substance" that reappears in your works?
It's honey. It simply makes me happy. It's beautiful and healing and has always been my favorite material to work with. When the liquid covers, the models face, it seems to reveal and uncover an authentic expression. It's as though the vulnerability of being unable to perceive with the eyes, allows for a genuine emotion to be surfaced. There is no hiding with this process, and discovering the truth is what I strive for through experimenting and creating works. To get below the surface of things. There is much more to what simply meets the eye in my paintings, and so I tried to capture it and preserve the sacredness of the experience.
What do you hope viewers evoke from your work?
I want the viewer to reflect upon oneself and find happiness in the painting and therefore inside themselves. If we can love ourselves and heal ourselves, we can, in turn, heal the world. My art is an expression of my love, and my dream is to heal the world through my art and remind others to love and be loved.
What was the most challenging part of your journey toward success? What was the most rewarding one?
The most challenging is to be creative with the next expression and to be unique. The most rewarding was to create something unique. The first being the honey portraits, which was healing for me and to people around the world, so that felt very nourishing. And "The Golden Age" which was a homage to my favorite artist and within the piece my reflection. It was almost twelve feet, so it was one of the largest pieces I ever created and was incredible even to me.
I am in the middle of painting the last piece from my Frida collection. She is another artist who is extremely inspiring to me and so many other creatives. She was physically broken and yet resilient. She didn't let her weakness get in the way of her painting and expression. She is someone who should be remembered.