Pointillism Revisited: Interview with Dimitri Likissas

Guy Hepner and Tax Collection are pleased to present the first US Solo show of Belgium-born artist Dimitri Likissas. The exhibition will run in the New York City gallery from May 10th to June 22nd.

Dimitri’s work stems from a long tradition of using distinct dots of color in art, which the viewer’s mind blends together to create the final image. Playing with chromatic tonality and the dissection of visual planes, Dimitri creates works that seem to move and undulate within the canvas as if attempting to escape their two dimensional confines. While the dots work together in harmony to create the image, their circular nature acts in opposition to his square or rectangular canvases, reminding us of the basic elements of life and how atoms are in a constant movement – propelling against each other – creating matter itself.

Having studied the works of the original Pointillist masters, such as Georges Seurat and Henr Edmond-Cross, as well as pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Keith Haring, Likissas gives us a fresh interpretation on the usage of dots in painting.

While having been painting and experimenting with dots and color for over 20 years, his body of work has maintained the same technical and stylistic approach over all these years while the content has developed as he has moved through different countries and life events.

What is your artistic background and training?

I am an autodidact (no formal training). I would say that I was born an artist. I have the personality of a creator, I have a need to create, conjure things and have a lot imagination and am driven to manifest my creations. 24 years ago I started to work in a newspaper as a graphic designer making advertisements the old fashioned way making Xerox copies of clipart books then cut the clipart with scissors and assemble an advertisement which was really a collage using adhesive putty, and then go to the dark room and shoot the ad, expose the film, make the separations, burn the plates etc, so I learned all this graphic work (pre-press) by doing. When I was a kid I used to paint Americana (logos) on jeans pants and jeans jackets for the kids in school for money. 

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When did you decide to use dots to create your images? What initially inspired you?

In the very beginning I somehow always wanted to incorporate 2 to 3 circles in my works. I felt they had a certain energy. My reasoning was that there is ‘circulation’ in a circle compared to a square that has corners (no one likes to be pushed in a corner) in a circle you are free. Freedom is important to me. I also likened the combinations of circles or dots as a molecule which is a group of atoms which have patterned geometries and vibrate. I used to call them powerdots. Lateron I discovered Roy Lichtenstein’s and his use of ‘Ben Day Dots’ which almost came as a revelation to me where for example a mass – methaporically, just like the molecules, atoms of one color spread out in a pattern can make up an other color, like a pattern of magenta dots, spread out far enough creates pink. The only thing I didn’t like is the pattern, a pattern is again where we lose freedom, it’s a set of rules. But in life we need to follow a set of rules to reach certain goals. In my case I use a combination of that pattern which creates not only illusions of colors of its own but also each neighbouring different color dots like with Albers’ color theory create yet again another color illusion. All this fascinates me. 

What would you say your current work is about?

Since I use that pattern and colors, no matter what colors I give each dots which in turn create a visual subject from a distance, in the past, now or in the future, my work is about the interaction and affecting the sensations of the viewer.

Name a few artists both historical and contemporary that inspire you.

Victor Vasarely for his geometrical abstract art

Roy Lichtenstein for the use of his dot patterns

Warhol for putting singular objects on a pedestal

What do you hope to communicate through your latest exhibition at Guy Hepner?

I hope to convey that we are lucky to be alive and to be fascinated with life, to not see things as they are but to be curious and explore.

Tell us about your typical day. What do you do to stay inspired and productive in the studio?

I am not aware of days and hours (I am in my own world, which can be annoying to get things done in the real world, synchronicity), so I work in the studio at hours when I feel like it, however, my mind is constantly focused on creating things. Once a work is started, it becomes an obsession. I have a sketch book which is full with clips from magazines, newspapers and other print mediums. I cut out images that give me a certain sensation. I have enough inspiration to paint than I am able paint!


Share a piece of advice for artists trying to find their unique voice and style.

Finding your unique voice and style comes from within you and being true to yourself and which can only come from experience, I mean, your ultimate style is shaped until it fits you totally. It can take years. It must also be something you are personally happy with. It is also sticking to your guns.