Born in Maracay, Venezuela, in 1981, Gerrit Rietveld Academie graduate Abdul Vas, is the creatively chaotic artist responsible for producing countless handmade books, zines, photographs, collages, drawings, paintings and murals.
Selected for the Beijing Biennale in 2009, Vas went on to exhibit My 57 States AC/DC (Georgetown, Guyana) in the same year. Now working on project North-American Truckers and AC/DC Power, exhibited at Disk Union (Tokyo, Japan), Abdul Vas shares his rock-fuelled drive to create in an exclusive piece for PETRIe.
My interest in AC/DC started to develop when I was just six years old, but it was a little later, when I was a teenager painting in the streets with the band’s logo, that I realised that my passion for the Australian band would become my main source of inspiration. When drawing an inspirational blank the only song that can save me is ‘Who Made Who?’ and if I am low on energy, a new piece of AC/DC memorabilia or a glimpse of their live performance is the only answer.
But my work is not only devoted to the rock music genre; my native country, Venezuela, as well as symbols of the American Dream also prompt me to produce. Amongst these various sources of inspiration, the Kippenland (chicken’s land) plays a fundamental role. Though rooted in my childhood memories, the chickens in my paintings take a detour. No longer are the chickens victims of foodstuff genocide, in my paintings I present this animal as the exterminator; stronger, and – empowered by the band that empowers me – in some cases ornamented with the letters AC/DC. I place them in scenes where it is the chicken that uses force and exercises hate, violence, sensitivity and sex to create surfaces that frighten or charm, but never something in between.
Even my way of working can be considered unconventional. I don’t go to my studio to work every day, research or to do things just for the sake of it; that just doesn’t make sense to me. Going to my studio is like recording an album. First, I prepare a couple of ideas, and then – based on those ideas – I begin production. It is during this process that the authentic work is produced – and I select around four out of seven pieces, and then the wheels really start turning.
The thing is, in my artist’s studio I don’t have Mike Fraser like AC/DC to mix the sound, but with a bit of imagination, everything flows! Through my work, I want to make sure that nobody forgets that rock ‘n’ roll will never become ‘out of fashion.’
Words: Abdul Vas & Elizabeth Neep
Artwork: Abdul Vas