PORTRAIT WINNER: Local Artist Vlad Kolas in his Bangalow studio.
PORTRAIT WINNER: Local Artist Vlad Kolas in his Bangalow studio. Patrick Gorbunovs

Bacon to cast his verdict

THE CALL has gone out for entries in this year's Northern Rivers Portrait Prize with entries closing April 19 and the winner announced on June 8.

Last year's winner, Vlad Kolas is already hard at work in his small studio located in a converted garage in Bangalow and considering another tilt at the prestigious award.

"Making each painting is a cross between a boxing match and a game of chess," Mr Kolas said.

"It's about finding the edge between it coming easily and being a struggle, even if its accidental that balance is what you are searching for."

It always seemed inevitable that Mr Kolas would become a professional painter with both his grandfather and mother being artists.

"I grew up in a family of painters so it was natural that I became a painter," he said.

"You pick it up early and it all goes into your head."

His mother studied at the National Art School and Mr Kolas also began his visual art studies there.

After a wildly successful solo exhibition at Sydney's Bondi Beach in 1997, he dropped out of art school while only half way through his second year.

"I made good money from that show and thought I knew enough to begin my career as a full time artist," he said.

"But I soon found that I had to work as well just to make ends meet."

It was also during this time he moved to the Northern Rivers, and in the process of finishing his degree at Southern Cross University he started a family with his partner Jess Williams.

Now with a chance to focus more on his painting he has set up representation of his work through local gallery, Barebones Art Space.

The renewed focus on his work paid off last year when he won the Northern Rivers Portrait Prize.

The award was a watershed moment for Mr Kolas, not just from a financial standpoint.

Aside for the $10,000 first prize Mr Kolas was thrilled to be recognised by the judge, Archibald winner, Del Kathryn Barton.

"You often wonder whether despite all the work you do you still may slip under the radar," he said.

Director of the Lismore Regional Gallery, Brett Adlington, said the award, now in its fourth year, is the most popular event on gallery's calendar.

"Entries can come from across Australia and this year's judge is renowned International art dealer and collector Philip Bacon," Mr Adlington said.

"The show is really a great reflection of the people who make up this community from the past and the present."

For more of Vlad Kolas' work go to: barebonesartspace.com.au

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