While in Miami for Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Attacks met New Haven, CT/New York City based painter Dave Thomas who was invited to show with Derek Gores Gallery at the Aqua art fair. Dave’s fingerprint paintings create a new level of texture and whimsy to the dynamic narratives he tells. Dave chatted with us about his work and the development of his technique.

I try to stick to a surreal fairytale-esque motif, a little on the darker side. My shtick is that all of my portraiture is done with finger prints. So all of the little dots are actual finger to canvas. Then I ad in color and carve out the background to kind of bottle that tension. There’s a real play between organic and inorganic, on top of the colors I choose, it’s all to create drama, to create tension and adds to these dark images creating a lot of bottled energy.”

“The fingerprints started slow. Back when I was at Derek (Gores)’s gallery in Melbourne, Florida, I was doing abstract paintings and fingerprints were only a small element. I liked the way they look. I was really surprised that you could see the ridges in the fingerprint. I thought they would be a little too smuggy. I liked how they added to the composition so I added more and more and more until eventually they were just white canvases with just grids of fingerprints. I didn’t know what to do with them. I liked the idea and I liked how they looked and I liked the vibe it gave but, I had no idea where to go. So I just kept doing them, and kept doing for no reason. Serendipitously my brother-in-law walked by my room one day while I was painting, looked in and said ‘you should make a face out of that’ and kept walking.”


“To him it was no big deal, but to me it was like of course, of course that’s what I should be doing! So I started turning them into figures and the first ones were just terrible. I had no idea what I was doing. But after months and months of repetition and trying things out they started to gain a likeness. And from there, its been three years with this process now.”

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DaveThomas_ArtAttacks_AquaJJDarling2Artist’s portrait photos: JJ Darling