This Melancholic Artist Finds his Perfect Match in Charcoal and Water

Felix Dolah doesn’t need much in the world: just some charcoal, some water, and perhaps the collected works of Socrates… But more on that later. The German artist has developed a brilliantly distinctive style of figurative work, one that’s expressively melancholic and carries with each image the fingerprint of his artistic process. Literally.


Felix’s artistic development started with a three-year long reflection period in his youth, and around a year ago he put this into practice with drawing and paint, with no previous technical experience. Beginning with brushstrokes, flitting to acrylics, and to acquarell, he finally settled on a winning combination of charcoal and water: “it felt extremely good.”

The distinctly earthy, tactile cast of Felix’s work chimes with the deep and authentic relationship he shares with the aateur models he uses for around half of his pieces, following the hours of personal conversation he frequently conducts prior to creating a piece. It’s an honesty that extends to his general ethic as an artist, one of frankness with others and with oneself: “I have been struggling with depression for nearly all my life, and I think this is important to know. Depression is the reason why my art exists.”


Felix has explored many outputs, having toured over Europe as a drummer in a number of bands, taken up chess at an amateur level, and fallen in love with the cinema greats, from Tarkovski to Antonioni. His love of literature extends from Rilke to Beckett, and a primary mover in his intellectual development has been the big man himself – Socrates: “you could say that Socrates is kind of my best mate.”

THE PLUS: You have a unique style – how would you describe its development?
Felix Dolah:
I never pressure myself and thought about which direction I wanted to go. Hard, dirty charcoal and fluid, clean water. The charcoal part felt so rough and the water part so soft. So I learned to control both elements in my personal way.

TP: Is there anyone – or anything – that has particularly shaped your art?
Socrates. In an platonic dialogue he says something like “the highest good for humans is goodhearted dialogue.” it made click in my head and I knew that my art will be dialogue through and through. Honest dialogue.


TP: Do you ever change your minds about the honesty you’ve expressed in a piece?
I can say that what I do I do with absolute honesty. I often delete works from the internet after uploading them because something doesn’t feel right. For me art is essentially honesty with oneself.

TP: Talk us through your materials and techniques?
I form it with my arms, my feet and my soul. No limitations here, everything is allowed.


TP: What attracts you to working in monochrome?
I often get asked why I work only with black and white and that I should use colour sometimes. My answer is always the same: I do what I have to do.

TP: Your fingerprints seem to be an important part of your pieces – is it important to have this tactile element?
First time I did it was kind of an accident. A lucky accident, I guess, because it felt so right. It brought me closer to my works. We get identity through our fingerprints. I am my work. I want to get identity through my work, conclusion: I put my fingerprints on it. So fingerprints were a damn good solution I guess. Secret: Some Fingerprints in the works aren’t mine.


TP: What inspires you most?
To be honest everything inspires me. I get up very early in the morning. A passing train and its sound is able to inspire one of my works. A song can also be responsible. Except this its Human beings, Literature, Philosophy, Films, nature (especially trees and birds). Conversations with friends, people in the bus, people at the bus stop, people in stores, people in bars, people people people and much much more.

TP: Where do you want to take your art in future?
It’s not important where I want to take it, more where it leads me.