Meet the artist: Vlad Yashin

Vlad Yashin is a young beginning artist from Moscow, Russia. His work “Contamination” became a winning art work of the Old Holland Painting of the Year 2020.

When did you first start painting? Were you born with a paint palette in hand, or did your interest in art develop over time?

I started painting during my school years. It started with simply sketching everything I liked like computer games… I even came up with my own original characters. In 2016 I started an Instagram page dedicated to mostly drawings of pop icons, YouTubers, Netflix TV shows characters. Next thing I did was experimenting with oil painting and practicing my skills.

"Contamination" by Vlad Yashin. The winning art work of the Old Holland Painting Contest of the year 2020.

Was there a moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?

I was inspired by a girl who drew different celebrities on Instagram too. I was amazed by her works! She gave me a lot of motivation to start doing my own thing. A lot of portraits looked exactly like photos – pointless and empty. I didn’t want to do that and always added my own twists to the drawings. I think that hyperrealism shouldn’t be the main goal in art, it’s just an instrument to represent your true feelings and ideas.

Vlad Yashin & Billie Eilish

How can you describe your own style and technique?

I would say that my drawings are the representation of pop culture & my paintings are the mirror of reality.

I usually work in two mediums – coloured pencils & oil paints. My main jam in pencil works are colourful and unique backgrounds that are sometimes connected to the painting. Like chessboard that matches the background in my «Queen Of Gambit» painting, burning flowers in «Elite» fan art, or it can be the hammer that «breaks» apart the Billie Eilish portrait.

"The Queen's Gambit" by Vlad Yashin
"Billie Eilish" by Vlad Yashin

I think these backgrounds are my personal trait and if you see a portrait with weird or extra flowery decorations in it, perhaps it’s safe to say it must be my work. In oil painting it is a bit harder – I’m just starting out & finding myself. As for today, they take me usually a month or two to create. They also have more depth and meanings than my fan art artworks.

Do you have a personal favourite piece? Can you think of a piece that was particularly fun to work on?

I recently finished a painting called «The Shadow of Death». It is a huge oil on panel piece that’ll be a part of my new triptych. There will be 2 more paintings to compliment it. The first one will be with the full shining light bulb and model staring at the viewer.

The second one has the same bulb but it falls apart in pieces, the model is looking down to show that they are losing their passion, ideas, concepts… Everything they want is to give up and move on.

The third one will be in dark – no more lights, no more ideas, no more passions. It’ll show only their shadow, shadow of death.

"The Shadow of Death" by Vlad Yashin

Which artist of the past would you most like to meet?

I would probably hang out with Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat in a studio. Sounds iconic to me.

What is your favourite art gallery/museum and why?

We have a few good ones in Moscow, but I would say that MMOMA (Moscow Museum Of Modern Art) is pretty cool.

What was the last exhibition you went to?

It was the Second Triennial of Russian Contemporary Art in Garage museum. It showed amazing works from Russian artist like Andrew Kuzkin, Russian Zoloev, Leha G and other amazing artists. Loved it!

"Danna Paola & Mina El Hammani" by Vlad Yashin