My interest lies in the distorted connections between the many systems we inhabit—political, economic, cultural and social—and the principles or absence of principles at the root of these systems. My artworks, primarily paintings and architectural installations but also experimental economies, videos and artist books, translate these theoretical, philosophical problems into the visual or the physical. I use freely the language of architecture, diagrams and other systems to imagine models or structures that question the ways in which our current neo-liberal system shapes the social landscape.

Such concerns may appear irreconcilable with the practice of painting. Is painting limited to self-referential lyricism and subjectivity alone, or can it also be used to propose a more analytical critique of societal and topical issues? I try to raise this fundamental question in my work by combining symbolic and indexical elements such as architectural plans, color coding, text, arrows and legends, which refer to specific concepts and issues outside the canvas, while their meaning within the work remains relative to colors and shapes. How does the subtle aggressivity of a warm orange glaze over a cold pink relate to the shift of meaning between two words such as “integration” and “assimilation”? This ambiguous relationship between content and form is a central concern in my work.

Several projects also take other forms: architectural installations, lecture-performances, videos, experimental economies. These are conceived as interactive means to explore some of my ideas at a human scale, such as the integration of public and private space, the distribution of resources in a given system, or how the organization of space affect social interactions and relations of power.

Even though most of my works are openly critical and address societal and/or topical issues, the last thing I intent is to make art that is unidirectional or moralizing. I try instead to translate theoritical problems into systems (visual or otherwise) where tangible elements such as time, social dynamics, design, shapes and colors provoque a more subjective and less strictly rational reconsideration of the issues at play. I attempt to blend the analytical with the poetic, combining structural rigor and psychedelic environments, geometric abstraction and text elements, diagrams and color fields. In opposition with the traditional conceptual credo that the physical manifestation of an idea should not bear any "visual surplus" but limit itself to the strict requirements of the concept, I believe in the possibility that form can affect us psychologically and slow down our experience with the work through contemplation, thus allowing a form of critical engagement that moves away from the political debate to approach philosophy.


In parallel with the visible part of my practice, I have been conducting research on economic and social structures since 2010. Several works came out of this research:

Financially Sustainable, Self-Sufficient Artist Studio (2010)
Vertically integrated Socialism (2015)
The Time of the Work
Vertically Integrated Socialism
(2nd Version, 2017)

My first practical experiment for an actual, working economic system was The Time of the Work, in which 16 valuable artworks by Canadian artists were aquired by 16 participants without money, using meditation and the passage of time as a currency. I'm currently working on a new project for another functional system, a poetic economic tool allowing a multidimensional conversion of value.


2017 Interview for Into This with Marx Ruiz-Wilson [Listen here]

2015 Interview for the Bruges Triennial of Art and Architecture Triennial [Listen here]


Monograph available: Nicolas Grenier: Structures (2018)
Text by Saelan Twerdy, interview by François Le Tourneux
To purchase a copy please contact:
Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran (Canada & international)
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles (USA & international)