The show is titled Addiction: A Visual Narrative, not Addiction: One Man's Story, and it's important to keep that in mind when you see this show — as you should — at Blackbird Studios in the Container Park: It tells a larger story. It's not about any single person or type of addiction, says Las Vegas artist Daniel Vuyovich. "It's an examination of addiction in its common manifestations, free-floating observations of the pain associated with addiction, and of rebirth," he says. Our culture, preoccupied with the self and sold on the value of therapeutic catharsis, is filled with writers, artists and performers retailing their wrenching recovery stories. Whatever his own experiences, this show is not meant to be that. "I'm trying to bring to light the experience of addiction, which I think is a universal human struggle."
The works — graphite on watercolor board — are mostly black-and-white, because "addiction is one-dimensional," but his is approach to the subject is not. Addiction gets you on plenty of physical, mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual levels. Look at the image above. It leads off the series and is the first one Vuyovich created, roughly three years ago, when he started this project. It depicts the initial release of addiction, an outblast of "the inner workings of his diseased mind," as Vuyovich puts it. The damage it depicts is a fair indication of how much will eventually need to be repaired. And that hope of repair is as crucial to Vuyovich's work as its fidelity to the "power of addictions, and the delusions that go with it." The series ends, he says, with an image of rebirth.
Rendered in a pop-surrealist style, the pieces are meant to have an instructive visual polarity, with abstractish elements counterpointed by moments of realism. That illustrates the tension of addiction, he says, hard reality vs. the fantasies induced by addiction.
Vuyovich, a three-year resident of Las Vegas, is perfectly aware of the irony of hanging a show about addiction in a city that's mostly happy to abet your risky pleasures. "It's sort of a Vatican of that," he jokes. "It seemed really appropriate to do this show in this city."
There's a bit of potentially instructive polarity in the venue, too. On one hand, it's the sort of work — visually aggressive, not necessarily fashionable, emergent — that Blackbird often shows. On the other … it's in trendy, mainstream Container Park. Good fit? Blackbird operator Gina Quaranto looks at the exhibit as a way to "speak to the masses about what Blackbird Studio is all about," but adds that she's braced for feedback indicating that such intense images aren't a natural fit in such an upbeat setting. "Well," she says wryly, "they did ask me to open up an art gallery."
Addiction: A Visual Narrative, by Daniel Vuyovich, March 15-May 15, Blackbird Studios in the Container Park, 707 E. Fremont St., blackbirdstudioslv. Opening reception, 6-10 p.m., Saturday, March 15.