Dominic Dispirito’s larger than life paintings give us a glimpse into a brilliantly strange, artificial looking world. The bizarre characters in his work seem flat within a 3-dimensional scene, with unnatural skin colours that are blue and grey. His work takes images that are originally in a digital space, and paints them onto a canvas. Dispirito’s bold and unique paintings are, incredibly, all first conceived on his IPhone. Just recently earning his MFA in painting from the Slade School of Fine Art in London this year, Dispirito has been picking up speed showing his amazing work—and has not slowed down! After graduating, he has shown his work as part of a duo exhibition at The Dot Project while simultaneously showing his work in Holland. Dispirito’s work will also be in two more exhibitions coming up, one in December and the other in January. The ambitious artist has also recently received the Adrian Carruthers Studio Award, among other nominations.
Born and raised in London, Dispirito discusses with us the environment he grew up in and how it has influenced the content in his current body of work. Join us as the artist tells us about his time at art school, his process using digital tools in his creative process and his interest in the connection between human and machine.
AMM: Let’s start with your artistic roots. When did you begin your creative endeavours? Did you grow up in an artistic household?
DD: Yes, I have always made art as far back as I can remember, I really believe that I am doing what I was born to do. Its funny, I didn’t grow up in an artistic household really, my brother is an actor and also writes scripts, but apart from that, nobody else is even interested in art. So it’s a mystery how both my brother and I are artists.
AMM: Your approach to painting is undeniably unique, speaking loudly to your voice as an artist. Tell us about your process developing your specific style. Has your art always had this unique flavour, or was it developed while you were at The Slade School of Fine Art in London?
DD: There is no doubt in my mind that studying for my MFA at The Slade has pushed my practise to the extreme. I really feel that it has sped up the development of my work. It’s such a great school—it definitely lives up to its prestigious reputation. But at the same time, I worked my ass off; I’m a great believer that hard work pays off. The unique aspect to my work comes from simply being myself.
AMM: Tell us about your time earning your MFA. Was your work well received? How did this experience influence your process as an artist?
DD: Yeah, I believe my work was always well received throughout studying at the Slade, and it certainly was at my degree show. I had a lot of interest from people, and the most popular comment was “best room in the show”. It was really touching, and probably the best time of my life so far.
AMM: What inspires your interesting, unexpectedly blue-coloured characters that show up time and time again in your body of work?
DD: I wanted to make my characters more otherworldy, but colour has always been really important to me. A quote from the formalist writer Clive Bell sticks in my mind: “ What quality is shared by all objects that provoke our aesthetic emotions? Lines and colours combined in a particular way, certain forms and relations of forms, [that] stir our aesthetic emotions”.
AMM: You use very diverse, innovative mediums and tools to create your work, such as your IPhone drawings and 3-D printed drawings. Can you tell us about these different methods?
DD: I am always interested in discovering new ways of making as well as the relationship between human and machine, the tangible and the intangible. I suppose I’m of a generation where we witnessed the transition from analogue to digital modes of production. It’s a funny and sometimes weird world that we are living in. We spend half of our lives in the virtual world and the other half existing in reality. Really the work (and myself) are products of our society, the human and the non human. I reckon we will be taken over by machines one day, its happening already. I hate self-checkout machines lol.
AMM: Do your acrylic paintings start out in a digital format before being painted onto a canvas?
DD: All of my work starts off with using apps on my I-Phone, the paintings begin as digital studies on the phone which I make using my fingers, I then translate them onto canvas where I mimic the textures and the colours that you find on the screen.
AMM: What relationship does the world you create in you paintings have with reality—with the world we inhabit?
DD: Well, the answer to this is in a previous question, I think they convey the relationship we have to the virtual world. But at the same time, the work has become more personal, the subject matter is dealing with experiences that I have had growing up in Central London and coming from a working class background, drug addiction and alcoholism, gang culture—there will be some positive stuff to come soon I’m sure, lol.
AMM: Can you tell us about your work currently on view until November 26th at The Dot Project in London, as part of the duo exhibition Candy?
DD: Yeah. I’m really happy with the installation for the exhibition and have had a really good response to it. I think I’ve done really well considering I only had two and a half weeks to make the work (4 large paintings, an animation and a life sized sculpture) as well as having a solo show in Holland at the same time. It was pretty stressful to be honest, I was working 14-hour days in the studio, and I’d only just graduated from my MFA. It was a great opportunity to have a space where I can make an actual installation and paint the walls, etc. For me, this gives more of an experience for the audience rather than a painting hanging on the wall.
AMM: Do you have any exhibitions coming up in the near future?
DD: I’m going to be part of Kristian Day’s Paper Cuts in December and I’ve got a show coming up at Annka Kultys gallery in January.
AMM: What do you do when you are looking to stimulate the creative flow?
DD: I don’t really do anything, its constantly there with me like a waterfall, the ideas come in and they go out, they come in and they go out.
Find out more about the artist: www.dominic-dispirito.com
Interview by Christina Nafziger for ArtMaze Mag.