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Mike Dargas’ hyperrealistic paintings bring into question our own emotional perception and understanding of humanity. Studying his subjects with an intensity that rivals Caravaggio and Dali, each piece is an intimate study that evokes the intricacies of thought, emotion and feeling.
Born in Cologne, Germany, in 1983, Dargas began his practice as a child, composing large-scale ‘old master’ paintings in chalk on the pavement in front of the Cologne Cathedral. Immediately recognised for his prodigious talent, at the age of eleven he was accepted into one of Cologne’s most prestigious art schools – the only child in a class full of adults. “Looking back, I’m wondering why the other grownups didn’t intimidate me at all. I just went there to paint – it felt pretty natural.”
Taking inspiration from artists such as Gottfried Helnwein and HR Giger, Dargas purses a unique form of hyperrealism in his oil paintings. Believing ‘faces are a mirror of our soul,’ his two-metre high canvases depict the closeups of people – young and old, beautiful and fragile, gentle and tough – often partially covered in dripping liquid such as honey, chocolate or molten gold. “I was searching for a material that could cover a specific ground, yet is transparent enough to see what’s underneath… I was fascinated by honey as a liquid material and it became the base element.”
The preciseness of his technique gives the work a photographic quality, one that is almost startling upon first inspection. From each individual eyelash, freckle, wrinkle, there is care and depth in each pigment. Using photography to capture these intricate details, Dargas actually shoots his models with liquid being poured over their heads. “Genuine expressions can be seen on their faces because it’s the first time the model has experienced that sensation.”
Seeking to represent an exact likeness of his subjects, Dargas not only conveys a physical resemblance but also the true essence of their character and thoughts; rare moments of personal transformation. “My art mainly deals with the emotional world. Therefore, I don’t paint concrete imagery. All of my paintings are trying to catch an emotional snapshot and aim to evoke a certain feeling in the viewer.”
Having exhibited internationally throughout Germany, Belgium, UK, Austria, Spain, Turkey, and the USA, Dargas’ works are now included in numerous private collections around the world.
“The perfection of his technique serves his goal to tend towards the perfect image, reaching for the soul within each single one.”
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