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Since July 2006, after our tornado twisted six day campaign into the back country of the La Cloche Mountains that we called "Camp Pain", I've been wanting to arrange a visit to Olexander Wlasenko's studio.

During the opening of an exhibition Olex co-curated, "Tony Romano: Notary Moon" at The Station Gallery; I got up the courage to ask.

"Sure" he said.

Yesterday I drove 60 kilometers east to Oshawa and got there just after the appointed hour of 15:30.

photo credit - "Camp_Pain_T_1b" Sebastian Hertgott



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That's Olex on his knees and there is the scale of it. Life size charcoal drawing on paper. He showed me a video presentation of himself hanging those unbelievably good drawings on a wire beside a lake and setting them on fire one at a time, one after another, until the shear shock of it turned to excruciating boredom. One after another the magnificent pieces burned up waving in a gentle breeze on one of those pretty gloss glass MAC screens. Rag paper soot drifted on wind... like, charcoal dust.

"How did that make you feel?" I asked.

Through the partially open screen door skateboards ground on the three cement steps up to the studio. Vinyl spun on a turntable.

"I felt good about it."

Then I think he said, "Clearing Out Inventory" under his breath like a a cheap department store newsprint flyer headline.

I know how it made me feel: I want one, before he burns it called something like "Restraining the Fool", a (in Olexander's production) small charcoal draw/paint/smear/rub that would make Rembrandt jealous. That's how it made me feel.

I don't know how to put this into language. There is a complex galaxy of events taking place on his rag paper.

Cinema Graphic Charcoal.

At the start... going back to the beginning, the technical starting point of Wlasenko's story is about 400,000 years ago (Wikipedia):

Charcoal is our first medium. For our first art we smeared it on ourselves and on each other. Charcoal is way old, as old as our fires. I can see it, in the morning, putting hands on it searching for hot embers, getting blackened, smearing it around, mixing it with spit.


Tasting it (spit spit spit).

Smearing it on a buddie's face, laughing.

"Eeehhh, Eeehhh, Eeehhh, Eeehhh..."

So, like, there is Olex in an unlikely city, the easternmost of the Toronto Megopolis, doing outrageous stuff and having a good time... like a real artist, entertaining a salon of working class intellectuals from the middle of the afternoon until the early hours of the next morning.

I didn't get back to Tree House until 4:30.

I don't know how to deal with this so I am going to retreat into my native tongue and lay up some stills and then end up with an edit of some video. I'm at a loss for words...




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