With the main door open, he can be seen on his feet in his Oshawa studio. At the moment he isn’t stepping on and off of stools or adjusting the light as he prepares a new project. He isn’t taping a fresh surface to the wall, or working on something with charcoal dusted fingers. Today the artist is getting ready for a talk he will give later that night, regarding the stories behind the cover art of 33 1/3 vinyl records. He’s selected 15 records from his collection of over 400 and it is obvious he knows his stuff; both about the musicians and the visual artists- being an accomplished visual artist himself this should come as no surprise.
Olexander Wlasenko has been attracted to black and white since he first began his career. While studying art in Florence, Italy, he and his friends would sneak into Cinema Apollo, a long closed movie theatre. It was there that he found some discarded movie film – later learning it was of the 1964 film Il Magnifico Cornuto. He kept it for years, finding a similar inspiration to the Soviet-era Ukrainian films he grew up watching with his father.
“I find it interesting that the colour of old films is the same as burnt matter,” he says while sitting in front of his piece “Hold”, it’s length purposely long to give a panoramic feel while also being narrative. “My works are an immediate response to a discrete cinematic moment.”
Using something as dark as charcoal, Olex creates pieces that are full of different shades, the presumed harshness of blacks gives way to a romantic softness. Fitting that he could make it work, with his black and white film rolls and his first job being a a curator’s assistant at Oshawa's Robert McLaughlin Gallery, assigned to help with a black and white photo collection.
Excited to be a part of this year’s Oshawa Space Invaders festival, the artist remembers last year's premiere event to be exhilarating, noting the Oshawa art scene is becoming more vibrant, “It’s a kind of renaissance and creative individuals are coming into the spotlight.”