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Rising Stars: Meet Alex Vlasov

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Vlasov. 

Hi Alex, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
It has been a long road. Ten years ago, I came to the U.S. almost without any knowledge of English, and here I am today giving you this interview. 

Any start is always rough. I had to move around a lot, worked all kinds of hard labor jobs that you can imagine, etc. But I always wanted to go to school. I did not know what for though, but living in the New York area for a long time allowed me to go to art museums. For instance, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art. There, I spent all my free time starring at paintings by Philip Guston, Cy Twombly, and Jackson Pollock. This is what probably got me into painting. And, of course, Lane Cooper. She was teaching Art History class during my foundation year at Cleveland Institute of Art. Her love for painting is incredible, during that class I realized I want to be a painter for the rest of my life. 

Now, I just finished my Junior year at CIA, recently had two solo exhibitions, participated in a few group shows, and I am super excited about our next show with Erykah Townsend at Abattoir Gallery that will take place in June. But if you would tell me all this ten years ago, I would certainly say you are out of your mind. I just couldn’t picture this. Yes, it has been a long road and it is crazy to think how far I got to where I am today. But still, I think it is just the beginning for me. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Of course not. It is always a challenge to go to your studio and make something out of nothing. But no matter what, for the last year and a half, I was in my studio twelve or more hours a day almost every day. Most of the time, I sleep four hours a day in order to do other things in my life. So, the biggest challenge for me, I would say to stay awake when I am not in my studio making art. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a painter who developed two distinct bodies of work. These two bodies of work are both abstract, they are heavily coded, with historical references, hold a lot of humor, and have a very optimistic worldview. 

The first body of work is text-based, and the paintings function as an examination of how the boundaries between the visible and descriptive realities come close together. For instance, when you see the words – “Duchamp is just a guy,” you can detect images of Marcel Duchamp, some of his artworks, or if you do not know who he is, you still can imagine a guy in your head. There are tons of possibilities, and it is different for each individual. 

And then, my second body of work deals with a visual abstract vocabulary that I use and recompose into different configurations. The intention of recomposing the same elements into new arrangements is very humble – to provide a new image that hopes to mean something to somebody else. Thus, this idea of how we construct meaning out of unrecognizable elements that are arranged differently on a surface comes forward. And in its core, it is a very postmodern idea. It is not about new content anymore; it is more about a new perspective – providing plurality within unity. 

Also, all my paintings point out the question of making a painting itself. Throughout the entire history of painting, the questions were pretty much the same – it was always about surface, color, form, and nothing else. In other words, the historic mission of painting is to be what it is – to be a painting. And unfortunately, I think a lot of my contemporaries completely forgot about that. They all talk about emotions, feelings, and all that kind of stuff. I think it is nonsense. Painting needs to be a painting. 

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
It is very difficult to predict the future with all these technological developments that do not give us a break. But wherever it is going, I expect it to be much better than now! 

Contact Info:

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  • Instagram: alexey_esenin

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