2009 California Arts Scholar2015 UCLA graduate, BA Art
photoshop, illustrator, after effects, premiere pro, final cut pro, digital photography
painting, drawing, stenciling, printmaking, carpentry, welding, analog photography
Artistotle Vlacos is a California-based artist, currently living and working in the SF Bay Area. A 2015 Bachelor of Arts recipient from UCLA, Aristotle’s art treads the line between pop and surrealism. Coming of age in the early 2000’s, the Bay Area’s culture of graffiti art and stenciling had a profound impact Aristotle’s style and praxis. Viewing art mainly as “a catharsis, a need to release emotions, feelings and ruminations,” Aristotle’s belief in the efficacy of therapeutic aspects of art becomes readily apparent in his oeuvre. Aristotle’s work regularly depicts the human struggle with anxiety and depression, pharmacological intervention, and psychedelic self-medication. In his own words: “By placing or putting my ideas on canvas, I can stop holding them in internally. Art therapy is a very real practice to me. This is probably why it's difficult for me to act like a ‘commercial’ artist. Art makes me happy.”
Likening himself to Picasso, Aristotle’s oeuvre documents the chapters of his life. The narrativity of his work betrays a undeniable biographic inflection to the sensitive viewer: “it's about my life: my fears, my vexations. It’s about my hopes, my dreams; my pain, suffering, and loss. My anger, my sadness; my experience with depression. my art tells the story of my life and struggle—however angsty it may be.” Aristotle’s ultimate goal is to convey, in a universal language, the intrinsically human struggles at the heart of the post-modern existence. Symbols of commercialism and pop culture surface in Aristotle’s work and are irreparably twisted in face of his idiosyncratically dark humor.
Artistotle’s taste for the morbid and the absurd harkens back to a Duchamp-esqe approach to the studium of art praxis, underscoring the difficulty he had navigating the machinery of art school: “In my opinion, art school was fairly detrimental to how I approach creation. now I find it harder to create—a lot of the difficulty has to do with consideration and an anxiety of institutional influence: I'm far more restricted and conservative now than when I started art school. My work definitely shows it, if you compare my early work to my current work. If my formal education was based on learning technique rather than all conceptual bullshit maybe this would be different.”
Acerbic in the face of the Art world’s restrictive elitism, Aristotle’s body of art stands in pointed opposition to what he perceives as “Stupid Art”—that is to say “Pointless art.” Again, in his own words: “Art that is stupid, but funny or self-aware, is great. Art that's just pictures of mountains or portraits done in a classical style doesn’t serve any function to me—and that's what's important to me, the function. Contemporary Art is about achieving something; its function might not be incredibly important or particularly profound, but it's there. If someone is making paintings that were already made 100 or 500 years ago, why bother? If it's not novel in some way, why make it? Understanding the mechanical reproduction of print culture rendered most ‘traditional’ forms of art pointless to me. I think art is supposed to be about pushing the boundaries of perception or feeling in some way—not doing something clearly redundant.”