'The Answer That Wakes The Wind' with Vlad Vesselinov

'The Answer That Wakes The Wind' with Vlad Vesselinov

April 08, 2021

I work in the direction of pop art and post pop art. My ideas bring the symbolism of everyday practices closer to the cult and fetish, which transform street culture into the creation of an established brand. I look at specific subcultural currents in their details and through the study of detail through colour and mask we build models of society, characteristic of the time. I transform images from the 1950's and 1960's into the present, trying to suggest the recurrence of the cycle of time.


I look at those icons that reflect the leading directions of the pop art boom and comparing them with the present I find a recurrence. The images in the paintings are as archaic as they are recognizable by our present and bring the serenity of the known and experienced. My art is inspired by the history of television, cinema, music and performance, and is heavily influenced by the symbols of home life, fashion, sports, and advertising.

My work is close to provocative pop culture, reflecting events with which I have a particularly intimate relationship. The characters in my art embody social stereotypes that are both humorous and socially critical. A characteristic feature of my works is the clearly visible texture of the canvas and the well-defined physical reliefs, reminiscent of pages that someone grabbed from a fashion magazine found on the ceiling.

It is similar to the effect used by Quentin Tarantino in his productions, where filmed films full of dirt and defects attract the audience in a unique atmosphere of Drive-in theater. As for my colours, they are my weapon for victory over today's material and gray world. I also find inspiration in the modern way of life, I try to explore its dynamics, everyday life, alienation between people and lack of physical communication.


There is a thread of dehumanization in society that is difficult for most people to see because they are locked between their personal success, drama, memories or fears on a global or local scale. I am influenced by artists: Andy Warhol, Hariton Pushwagner, Yoko Ono, Roy Lichtenstein, Christo and Jean-Claude and others. Jack Kerouac, George Orwell, Allen Ginsberg, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Charlie Chaplin and others also contributed to my perception of the world...

What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?

I grew up until my thirteenth year in a communist country, the ideology that was felt even in school and all the straight paths they took in were very depressing even for a child. The light in the tunnel, or rather the colours in the tunnel, were the pages of the French comics magazine Piff and Hercule. I had to save money because it was very expensive. With a monthly salary of my father or mother, I could buy about forty issues of the magazine, you can already imagine how difficult it was for a child. These colours were for me an escape from reality and then I said to myself, this is a good job, and I want to work with colours ... that's how it all started. To this day I keep these issues of the magazine, they are so dear to me, my children's church.

How would you describe your own personal style?

It's hard for me to define myself, but maybe my style is situated somewhere in pop art, neo pop and there is always a touch of something conceptual in my works. At the same time, I strive to be different and recognisable, because in itself the whole pop movement is quite unified and the authors are very close to each other.


What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?

My later encounter with the big names in pop art pushed me in this direction. Which meeting was a continuation of the one with Piff and Hercules. These were  Andy Warhol, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Roy Lichtenstein and many others, I just won't have enough pages to list them. I see my works as a road or a spiral that is constantly evolving and always brings something new, touching and unknown. I would like to be able to say in the future that I left my fingerprint in colour and be happy about it ...

What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?

Inspiration can come from anywhere from something small and insignificant at first glance, which provokes you and then you look for a way to express yourself. And from something really big and significant, for example, things and events of local and global nature that shake your whole being and you can't remain indifferent, you can't just watch, you have to say things with your voice, to express yourself. I have an irresistible desire to work and this is my biggest driving force, if I can't paint today, I will certainly transfer ideas, images and colours to my head.


When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?

I have not considered as something a favourite kind of paint or other means of expression, I like to work with any material. Yes, for painting I prefer oil and acrylic paints, but for my conceptual projects and art installations I use all kinds of materials, such as: PVC pipes, repainted fire hoses, fabrics, wood and all sorts of things, I also like to use different sound or noise that I have recorded or mixed.

When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?

I have always tried to say something, to draw people's attention to something that is worthwhile or to some problem of our time. Life today is too material, gray and dehumanised in some way, on the one hand I want to inject a jet of fresh oxygen into this grayness or with a slight nostalgic wink at the past times of Dolce Vita.


Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?

The idea is always a provocation, something that works on my mind, that makes it excited and working. Be it events, memories from already experienced moments or a look ahead, we impressed a person with character or radiance, the aura it carries, etc. Then comes the process of the creative work itself from clarification in the mind to some other sketch and proceeding to construction in a given material. Like any breath made up of inhaling and exhaling.

Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?

Awakening, coffee, hope for today, my son's eyes are like a ritual that in itself fills me with charge and saturates my senses. And then I already feel passionate about my communication with my art, everything is a link that leads to the next and this is called life.

When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?

I'm working on a work so I can give it my best. I've tried to work on more things at once, but then I get distracted and there's an uncertainty that then shows up in the work, or at least I can sense it. I learned to put a brake on the next work to be focused on the moment, I think that's the only way it happens, then there is a truth, an organicity in the work, as if it breathes and leads its social life after that.


How has your art evolved to be where it is today?

As I said, art is a journey, a breath, a link from something whole that develops me as an artist, and I develop it as a work. Over time, I searched for and continue to do so - different colour harmonies, as a musical chord to express myself in this way. Different causes and ways of thinking over the years that have excited me in the process of creative evolution. I am glad that I do not deny anything that has passed, everything is a lesson for something better.

Which of your artworks are you most proud?

I can't distinguish one, two or several of my works to be proud of, maybe I felt more like nature and spirit one at the moment, and others I feel after a certain time or when the work is no longer with me. Sometimes the affect and adrenaline I get during the process interferes with my perception of the work. But still yes - I have works with which I could say that at some point they are more intimate for me and have gained popularity. Years ago, when I transformed the riverbed into a canvas with a footpath about three hundred meters long and twenty meters wide, I was very happy. Three years ago I painted the cover of the announced best punk album of the pioneers in Chinese punk - Underground Baby, a band that is of great importance for Chinese rock music and I am naturally proud of that.

Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?

I admire the energy that an artist has, his sense of life, the harmony he creates, the spirit and the idea he carries. These are, say, people like Bob Dylan, an artist in the broadest sense of the word, both a musician, poet and an artist, Julian Opie, who I also really like and many others. The world is full of wonderful artists.


If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?

This is a very lively and interesting question ... Perhaps the Renaissance, times of great discoveries and artists, times that have given impetus to humanity as a whole. The period after the Second World War, the end of the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's, times full of optimism and faith in the future, which I am afraid we did not justify.

What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?

There are really too many, these are challenges that every person has to overcome. On the one hand, there are the fears and insecurities of all these shifts of global and civilisational spheres, on the other hand, there are the digital worlds, which create a false reality that breaks down man into a dumb and agreeable consumer. Third is the spiritual and cultural crisis. There are many challenges. I have always said - Don't wait for the wind that brings the answer - but be the answer that wakes the wind.

We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?

Oh, yes, I have such works that I have completed in thirteen, ten or seven years. These are works in which I felt that I had not fully expressed myself, that I had more to say. It's really hard to know when to stop, it's better not to finish them, so you lock their time in yourself. From the distance of time it sounds reasonable to me, but that doesn't mean that tomorrow I wouldn't do something else on a job that is in front of my eyes in the studio. It is a kind of striving for perfection. The only salvation is that the job is no longer the studio.


Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?

A work must always be loaded with an idea, worldview, focus on a topic or problem, otherwise it risks being just a form without content. Glossy packaging of an empty and unnecessary product. The responsibility of the artist is great, he must be careful and confident in his causes and ideas, because this can affect someone whose existence you do not even suspect.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working on a series of works on transport. All things related trains, container ships and the like. And the most interesting thing is that on the day I finished work on my last work with a container ship, I saw on TV the news about the stranded container ship in the Suez Canal. Direct current flowed through my body, it was just like my picture, as if I were in a novel by Haruki Murakami, strange.


Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?

I was once part of a group of artists, at the very beginning of my life as an artist, but I quickly realised that this was not for me. After that I have never been, I think this is not particularly important for an author, it could even negatively affect his perceptions. The creator must guard against such situations and give importance to things that interest him and are in harmony with himself, no matter how selfish it may sound.

When is your next exhibition? Is it a solo or group exhibition? Could you tell us a little about the exhibition, when and where it is?

At the moment the situation is so idiotic and wrong, in general it is a big mess. Art fairs like those in Paris, Milan, Padua and many others have failed and I have always been a part of these events. At the moment, as confusing as they may be, things still happen online, but there is nothing more valuable than live contact and communication. At the end of April I will be part of the Biennale of Contemporary Art in Venezuela, and then I will have works at the World Trade Center in Taipei, this is in the near future. Then I hope things return to the previous pace of life.

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