Vlad studied at the National Art School in Sydney in the late 90s and graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Art from Southern Cross University in 2002. In 2012, Vlad won the Northern Rivers Portrait Prize with a self-portrait.
VLAD by Fiona Baker
Prize-winning painter, Vlad Kolas, is moving about his studio, brush in hand, music blaring, when I appear at the door one hot afternoon. Startled, he turns and jumps off the ground and walks over, wiping his hands with a rag. Music is a crucial element to Vlad’s artistic practice, giving him energy and inspiration.
“You know how you dance when no-one’s looking?":
I’m doing that with the paintbrush.
Then you stand back and assess what you did and make some adjustments. It’s a balance between those critical decisions and the intuition,” he says.
Growing up in Bondi Beach, Vlad loved surfing and music, and tried his hand at carpentry before he realised it wasn’t going to deliver him the creative and career freedom he desired. It was Vlad’s partner Jessica, a glass artist, who recognised Vlad’s talent and prompted him to study art instead. Vlad’s mother and grandfather were both artists, and he’d absorbed much of their skills and knowledge, but hadn’t paid it too much attention. “Visually being around it from a young age, it gets ingrained in your head, you don’t even realise it”. Vlad spent two years at the National Art School in Sydney, learning a lot about
drawing, before moving to Lismore to continue his studies at Southern Cross University, where he majored in oils and painting. Vlad’s semi-abstract style is inspired by his mother and grandfather’s portraiture and figurative work, as well as expressionists and abstract artists such as Willem De Kooning. “For me it’s about drawing and then the movement of paint. There’s a design and a pattern; it becomes a jigsaw puzzle that you have to solve,” he says. “It self-directs in some ways, you’ve got to figure out how to finish it, and what works.”