ABOUT MY WORK

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 the ideas in my paintings 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 and distribution 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 visual systems where 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 of visual content to 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.


CURRENT RESEARCH: EXPERIMENTAL ECONOMIES

In parallel with the visual aspect of my practice, I have been conducting research on experimental economic and social structures for some time. Vertically integrated Socialism (2015-2018), a tupian/dystopian fiction, was inspired by this research. My first practical experiment for an actual, working economic system became the project The Time of the Work (2016), in which real transactions took place. I'm currently working on a new project, which hopefully will be tested in 2019. More to come.


ALSO:

2017 Interview for Into This Podcast with Marx Ruiz-Wilson
http://www.intothispodcast.com/podcasts/2017/10/26/episode-5-nicolas-grenier

2015 Interview for the Bruges Contemporary Art and Architecture Triennial 2015
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB3_C7SKahY