Artwork’s Title: Nachtmahre oder Abbilder?
Materials Used: oil, acrylics and spray paint on raw canvas ( 200 x 160 cm )
Studio Based: Saarbrücken, Germany
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Dennis Di Biase
I rarely paint with any sort of system or specification, I have no more than a rough idea where I want this painting to go , because the canvas has a mind on its own and sometimes there is collision between my wish, where the painting should be going and what the painting really needs, which causes a new problem, which could also be a new way to bring this painting ahead.
How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?
I would say theatrical, romantic and something like the attempt of being a self-explorational human being.
Would you use another three different words to describe this particular painting?
I really thought about this a lot longer than the other questions but no, I wouldn’t. It would destroy the path of finding its meaning for the viewer and there’s nothing more horrible you can do as an artists and explain your work to the last detail.
How did you come up with this painting idea? Is there any story behind this
It is the first large scale painting I did this year and I wanted to paint something with some sort of monumental feeling, but now there is this vulnerable figure, laid down in a crucifixion-like pose, which is a strong contrast to what I thought I want to paint. The two ghostly figures can be seen as some sort of dream like reflections of the laying figure, which is in a state of sleep paralysis. But there is the point for me, the fact that it is just a dream and there is no threat, no real attack of the ghostly shadows, there is the chance of being vulnerable. No one wants to be vulnerable, knowing that they’re going to get hurt, but we do it anyway. Painting for me is a lot like making things conscious, therefore I can’t really say what I want to paint, my subconscious dictates where this is going, I just correct the mistakes or I leave it as a reminder. So being vulnerable was the message I needed in this process of painting.
What colour is used the most in this painting?
There are like 6 to 8 Layers of red, some brighter, some more like blood, until I agreed with it. This slightly muddy, pale red dominates the background and wants to place itself right in your nervous system rather than being looked at with your eyes, so it keeps you focused on the scene.
What would be the best way to exhibit your work?
I guess in a small room, just so that the painting has enough space to hang properly. There would be only enough space for 2 or 3 visitors to be with the painting, because I think art is an act of feeling, and I personally feel the most when I am alone with something, in a crowd there is just numbness and I don’t want my paintings to be treated like a gorilla in the zoo. Painting is not amusement.
Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
There is this big appreciation dedicated to Francis Bacon. I like Velazquez and Goya to name some masters. And I recently got my hands on a catalog from Marlene Dumas and fell in love with her style of showing emotions in the raw form of human beings. Following younger artist, Tayler Fisher (instagram: tayler__fisher) is one of the first artists that pop in my head, definitely check him out, he is worth it.
How do you know when this painting was finished?
You feel it, I imagine it is like raising a quick-tempered child, when it becomes quite and calm, almost like the inner war is over, you know this is the point you have to stop and let the painting stand for itself. And with this particular painting, it was the moment of realising the figure doesn’t need a face, with this insight, it directly became quiet.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?
I share myself a wonderful studio with my mate Jonas Mayer (instagram: jonasmayerr), we have separate work spaces in one big room with a lot of daylight and a high ceiling and between is like a place to sit and talk about each others work, when both us are painting, we don’t cross the other ones space, which is really important to me, because I have to be/feel alone to paint.
Is there any particular message that you wish your viewers can take from this
Maybe, but it is up to the observer to find it.
What does your mum think about your art?
I am the first person in my family, who is really into art, so there are no great discussions about anything regarding my works, but I guess she likes what I am doing, because she sees me happy.
Which exhibition did you visit last?
I was at the Art Karlsruhe. This was the first time I have been to such a gigantic place filled with all kinds of art and I became distressed because after 2 hours wandering through these halls, it felt like I became blind for art. I am not sure if something like this is a good place for art, felt more like Hamburgs fish market. I am planning to visit the Centre Pompidou-Metz, it is not far away from where I am living.
Which are your plans for the near future?
Trying to be a good human and of course, painting.
© All images are courtesy of the artist