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Vincent Trasov

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Vital Dates:
Born: 1947


Vincent Trasov was born in 1947 in Edmonton, Alberta and he is a painter as well as a video and performance artist. He attended the University of British Columbia where he majored in languages and humanities. In 1969, influenced by the work of Group Zero and Yves Klein, Trasov began working with conceptual art and focusing on process and materiality in a series of paintings that used fire as an element in performance and a means to create work.

In the same year, Trasov assumed the identity of Mr. Peanut, the anthropomorphized Planters peanut, after working on a drawing of the peanut and making a flipbook about the peanut that was later remade as a film. Adorning the iconic peanut suit, Trasov decided to run for mayor on the advice of sculptor John Mitchell and ran a full campaign, attending press conferences and the like. After his campaign, he retired his Mr. Peanut identity.

In 1969, Trasov, along with life long collaborator Michael Morris, also founded the Image Bank. The Image Bank took inspiration for Ray Johnson’s New York Correspondence School, established in 1962, a project in which Trasov and Morris participated. Like Ray Johnson’s school, it was focused on mail art and was proposed as a method for the personal exchange of ideas. It was intended to create a collaborative, process-based project in the hopes of engendering a shared creative consciousness. Image Bank commenced sending lists of participants and their image requests, published first in monthly Image Bank mailings and later in FILE magazine – a reference and antidote to LIFE magazine – as directories and request lists, and maintained files of artists’ correspondence and research.

Image Bank later evolved into a network of artists in-person and via mail who held meetings, set up clubs, produced a variety of artworks and publications. Image Bank retained documentation of all of these events as an artist’s archives to preserve the material accumulated from their activities. It was later renamed the Morris/Trasov archives, partially at the threat of a lawsuit by a company that had copyrighted the name.

Trasov and Michael Morris began experimenting with colour gradients and the visual and material relationship between nature and culture, the fluidity of the boundaries between them and the reciprocal effects they have on each other, in the 1970s. This entailed painting strips of a given colour in 9 stages of gradient from light to dark and setting them against natural and other environmental backdrops. The project later developed into the creation of rainbow coloured bars and variations created by combining different colour bars.

Trasov was one of the co-founders of the Western Front, one of the first artist-run centres in Canada, in 1973.  The Western front focused on multidisciplinary art-making including painting, drawing, sculpture, video performance, music and literature and encouraged the subversion of the official art system. Trasov served as co-director until 1980.

In 1981, Trasov was an artist-in-residence at the Berliner Künstlerprogramm or Berlin Artist Program with the DAAD, and acronym for Deutschen Akademischen Austausch Dienst or German Academic Exchange Service. In 1990, he participated in the Banff artist-in-residence program. He currently lives and works in Berlin and Vancouver.

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