THE FINE PRINT: It’s apparent that you’ve been gifted since a young age, starting your painting career in early childhood, and being the only child selected to attend art school, amongst a class of adults. What would you say first ignited your interest in painting?
MIKE DARGAS: I started painting as a child and was inspired by the Old Masters at first. At the age of seven I started using oil colours, worked on my technique and tried to improve the quality of each piece.
TFP: Many would describe your work as hyperrealism, or sort of a cross between realism and surrealism. How did you come to this style?
MD: I try to create realistic art on the edge to hyperrealism. Hyperrealism is pure perfection but I wanted people to understand that it is still painted. You can still see single brushstrokes in my works. It feels like paying homage to the Old Masters.
TFP: Are there particular artists you draw inspiration from?
MD: Today I look up to artists like Dalì, Caravaggio and HR Giger. All three have left a great legacy. They revolutionized the art of their time and earned recognition for their outstanding careers. I admire Caravaggio’s exceptional understanding for light conditions, Dalí’s endless imagination and Giga’s modernised realism – to name only few aspects.
TFP: Your images view almost like powerful photographs – have you ever been involved in photography, and how do you view your art in relation to photography?
MD: Photography is an important tool I use before painting. I started taking photographs of my models when the motifs became more and more complex. As an artist who paints realistic paintings, I am always trying to improve my works to become more realistic and detailed. I love to work on reflections, liquids and materiality. Also I adopt photographic characteristics, and play with the diffusion of the focus. It ́s exciting to combine photography and oil paintings.
TFP: Your images portray more or less “ordinary” people… are these people you see on the street? Friends? Where do you find your muses?
MD: I am inspired by people’s faces and am not limited to a certain type. My artistic view is attracted to certain subjective facial characteristics that I can find in friends or strangers.
TFP: Is there a message you like to consistently portray with your pieces? Or is each piece saying something different?
MD: The obvious part is a very delightful and beautiful sensuality. The deeper meaning actually focusses more on the single materials than on the models. My paintings have one thing in common: they examine natural and artificial structures.
TFP: How do you approach your art? Being a proponent of hyperrealism, would you call yourself a perfectionist? And how do you feel this influences your creative process?
MD: I would definitely call myself a perfectionist. I hope to improve my skills and knowledge about my art with every single piece. It is like an addiction. The artistic process itself is very playful. Using honey for instance or other liquids on models can be really funny, you can´t control it. So the preparation for the paintings are kind of like an experiment. After the photo session I start painting in my studio for hours, days, or even weeks.
TFP: How does living in Germany influence your artistic style?
MD: The historical background and cultural variety of Germany and Europe is immense. It is definitely a great spot for artists and creative people.
TFP: You became famous in your 20’s for your tattooing skills. Can you talk about the differences in your artistic approach when tattooing compared to painting?
MD: I worked as a tattoo artist for 14 years. But even then I focussed on portraits. Being a tattoo artist mainly gave me the chance to enhance my portrait skills and to perfect details.
TFP: Where would you like to take your art in the future?
MD: Recently I’ve been working on a new series and preparing upcoming shows. I hope to see you there!
Text by NINA DOERING