In Addiction: A Visual Narrative artist Daniel Vuyovich depicts addiction in disturbingly honest graphite-on-paper drawings that balance the real and surreal in jarring and somewhat humorous works. Part cartoon, part realism, the drawings in the exhibit at Blackbird Gallery inside the Container Park present a bizarre visual odyssey into the ugliness of the disease.
Created with technical skill, and alternating between fantasy and reality, Vuyovich’s Addiction doesn’t focus entirely on addiction’s many manifestations (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.), but considers the disease in a “universal context.” Included is a portrayal of the psyche as circus in “The Diseased Mind,” in which the ringmaster in one’s head stands amid the creatures, performers and peculiar beasts. Most of them look out at the viewer as if someone suddenly opened the door to this world for a look inside and caught their attention.
A series of drawings of 1950s rubber-faced plush teddy bears—intriguing, cuddly and creepy in their own right—was inspired by the song “The Beast in Me,” recorded by Johnny Cash, with Vuyovich visually interpreting the lyrics, “Sometimes it tries to kid me that it’s just a Teddy Bear.”
When Vuyovich does focus on particular addictions, he does so brazenly. “Religious Addiction” portrays a male crowned in the pose of the Virgin Mary, connected to a body that’s part penis. The many arms, like that of a Hindu deity, wear sock puppets and extend from his sides, speaking “delusion” to him from “within.”
“Food Addiction” has a monstrous and gluttonous man facing skyward to catch burgers, fries, pancakes, pizza, steak, drumsticks and animal heads being poured into his open mouth (along with unspecified liquids).
The Las Vegas artist says the show is designed as a catharsis, and that addiction is ubiquitous. Presenting the show in Las Vegas, which he refers to as the “Vatican of vices,” is, he adds, a sort of poetic irony.
Addiction: A Visual Narrative Through May 15, Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Blackbird Gallery, Container Park, 782-0319.