The exhibition, Reflection of Drems consists of seven new large-scale and two new small-scale oil paintings, including portraits of women gazing into mirrors and Dargas’ favored subject of flowing honey and chocolate over female faces. Mike Dargas’ hyperrealistic style is at once provocative and sensual, creating a sense of immediacy that is textured and visceral. But a deeper look at his work reveals a fascination with intimacy, a kind of personal and private experience, conjured by an inflaming of the senses.
Dargas explains that he views honey as a vehicle for uncovering truth and authenticity. He also looks to it as a healing substance, something that represents self-love as well as love for others. His work, though extremely sensual, goes past the erotic, towards a reinvigoration of innocence, genuine emotion and sacredness. In the works where women are drenched in sticky substances, the liquid becomes a mask that covers the model’s face, but simultaneously seems to reveal and uncover an authentic expression, as though the vulnerability of being unable to see with one’s eyes allows for the exposure of human emotion. The liquid forms also allow Dargas to show off his skillful technique and demonstrate meticulous attention to detail.
In all his paintings, the artist frequently puts an obstructive layer between his subjects and the viewer. Whereas in the past, he has used honey and chocolate, in this new series, he now experiments with mirrors, water and steam to separate the viewer from the models, so they are always just out of grasp.
Self-awareness and love are also major themes with Dargas’ newest body of work. By drawing on a digital generation obsessed with perfection, the figures critique the contemporary aesthetic ideal. Some of the figures kiss themselves in mirrors, subjugating the viewers’ gaze as they look at themselves. In the portraits that are face on, the model seemingly confronts the viewer. On closer inspection, the third wall is a mirror, and thus the model’s intense stare is only aimed at herself. The subjects frequently appear lost in thought, providing an opportunity for the viewer to project their own feelings onto them, and as the title suggests, reflect on their dreams.
Alongside the solo exhibition of Dargas’ work will be a large group show of diverse artists from Field Projects, as part of C24’s ongoing series of partnerships with non-profit and artist-run arts organizations dedicated to promoting underrepresented work.