Vladimir Kato

Toronto artist Vladimir Kato is an animator by day and a glorious painter by any-other-time-of-the-day. Vladimir’s twisted and hilarious creations include concepts from the far reaches of his mind such as R-rated movies and dark-humoured Italian comics. Luckily, he keeps some of that stuff out of his animation work, as he works on a lot of childrens’ programs. Recently I had a chance to chat with him following his most recent solo art show, titled Wilderness.

As an animator, have you had trouble deciding whether a character or concept should go in an animation or your artwork?
It depends what it is. My full time job is character design and background design for Teletoon and stuff like that. For instance, right now maybe a more retro character would totally belong in an art gallery. A piece back from the past is not ironic but it brings out the retro cool. People would mock the newer stuff that I would do and they wouldn’t take it seriously, even if my intention was to provoke them. If I were to draw any of the 3D or newer animation styles, they wouldn’t take it seriously in an art gallery.


Why is that?
I’m not sure. Maybe because it doesn’t have any credibility or it’s too commercial and they don’t understand it. If I were to do that, I would do it on purpose to provoke them to get a reaction and get hate out of them. It would be where I knew they would hate it, but I would do it just to prove that humanity is shitty.

Where would you find the separation between work and art?
My artwork definitely has my personal humour in it. I would try to explain my personality through my humour. My animation work is completely commercial and I do work based on what my clients want to see. I use technical skills for that. Both works are kind of weird—I have to put emotion into both of them. I do a lot of background work and you have to convey a lot of emotions and feelings. My personal work is kind of like a party. If I were to describe my personal work, it would be a scene from Trading Places where Eddie Murphy takes all the scumbags from the bar back to his house and the place goes wild.


What would you say is your kind of humour?
It’s just really obnoxious stuff like a drunk guy in high heels. I am totally going to go back to that kind of stuff because it’s really fun for me. I’m going to be staying away from the upscale hipster stuff.

Your artwork is quite spontaneous. More on the serious side, does your artwork hide any political motives that emerge subconsciously?
It kind of does. There are political motives that I want to do but I’m being safe and holding it back. I grew up in a communist country and we were isolated from the West, yet we still got exposure to everything, even if it was forbidden, showing how corrupt the government can be at times. Right now, I’m just trying to have some fun with it and find my themes and style. Maybe later I will become more serious with a serious message.


Are the tranny pictures a political move?
I was upset about the way they were treating the trannies. Even though I am not a homosexual, I admire their culture. This was kind of like an ode to that and how awesome it is, kind of in your face with a Prince vibe. The colours are also totally my colour scheme with the blue, the red, and the black. Prince is one of my favourite artists and I was just listening to him the other night. Wanting to keep your work life separate from your art life is quite difficult, especially with running two solo shows in two years.

Did preparing for these two shows at any point feel like work more than pleasure?
Definitely. The first art show was pretty fun because it was my introduction to everybody. With the second one, I had to stick with a theme and I also had my full time job picking up at the same time. I set a theme but I’m so spontaneous that I can never pick something and do it. I always like to explore other options and do random shit, like an artist with A.D.D. The problem with all this was that sometimes, I had a wicked idea in my head but when I go to paint it, I wasn’t having fun painting it and it was almost a chore. When I was goofing off, I have the best time ever. There are a few paintings I planned out this year and it was just a total chore.What will your next show be based around?
The next show will definitely be the whole package – some of the technicals and lots of humour. I still haven’t decided on a theme but it will be stuff that I like to see and a bit on what people want to see. This will be the last show and I want to have some fun with it.Finally, how do you see the evolution of your artwork taking place?
It is definitely going to evolve. Everything that fazes me always changes and I like to put out the most recent thing that fazes me. The quality will definitely improve and my painting skills will become more complex. My painting skills are getting better each year and right now. It is completely different than it was three or four years ago. I’m going to try some different media, too. I used to do a lot of film and film funny things, following people around with amazing music over top. It will always change and evolve.

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