About the work


Like many, I strongly believe that the times we live in, dominated by a growth-based and profit-oriented economic paradigm, call for an existential reassessment of where humanity as a whole is going. This feels at once urgent, abstract and impossible. Most of the concrete things we can do — voting, writing letters and petitions, changing our consumption habits, etc. — seem irrelevant in the face of the structural nature of the problem. Language itself seems too indebted to economics to adequately formulate the questions we must address. If we want to reconsider the very idea of how things are organized on the most primary level, then what metrics can we use that are not already the design of the existing organization? What kind of language is appropriate to explore, communicate and discuss these problems? In other words: what are the poetics of structural change? This question is at the core of my research and work.


My work focuses on the connections between the systems that shape the concrete and logistical aspects of our lives — in the social, cultural, political and economic spheres — and the evolution of the values and beliefs on which these systems are built. I try to create artworks that make visible, through different strategies, a variety of questions relating to the transformation of the social order, both within the context of current societal issues and from a fictional or speculative point of view. For example, how can one design a truly inclusive system that incorporates even the very thing that will break it? I'm interested in imagining models and systems where poetry and functionality meet through existential questions.

Most of my projects are built around themes such as moneyless economies, radical inclusivity, giving up individualism, and other ideas that evoke a paradigm shift in values and beliefs. My goal is to question the structures that shape the relation between individuals and the collective body: between people living together and the built environment that defines their interactions, between strangers exchanging resources and a shared notion of "value" that makes transactions possible, between citizens sharing a common vision and the embodiment of this vision in a community meeting, an activist group, a political party, or a nation-state. I try to examine the invisible forces at play in these questions, and to translate them into systems where elements such as time, social dynamic, space or color give form to otherwise intangible notions.

Many of my works, such as paintings, installations and audio loops, ask the viewer to engage in contemplative or meditative experiences. I'm interested in the possibility of slowing down time, of providing a multidimensional space where complex ideas can gently dissolve through a perceptual experience. Painting, in particular, allows me to blend the analytical with the poetic, to combine structural rigor with psychedelic environments, geometric abstraction and text elements, diagrams and color fields. Other works and projects are conceived as dynamic components made to interfere with the larger economic structures we inhabit. These projects operate as interactive and functional mechanisms, such as economic systems (The Time of the Work, 2016), think tank sessions (Built-In, 2019) or surveys (Mapping Exercise, 2019-2020). This interventionist approach is something that I want to push further with new collaborative projects currently in development.


36 hours of artist’s cinema
Taipei Contemporary Art Center
June 28, 2020
[Info here]

Nicolas Grenier, Positions

Exhibition review by Alban Loosli
Espace, Art Actuel
(No 125, printemps/été 2020)

Reality is Canceled
Online exhibition of moving image works
Hunter Shaw Fine Arts
April 3 - May 1, 2020
[Visit exhibition]

Nicolas Grenier at Bradley Ertaskiran
Featured exhibition on Contemporary Art Daily (March 2020)
[View here]

Nicolas Grenier: échapper au système
Article in L’inconvient by Anne-Marie Letarte (printemps 2020)
[View here]

The New Masters: The 2019 Sobey Art Award, Part 1
CBC Ideas, interview with Mary Link (March 2020)
[Listen here]

Positions: Le bunker occupé par Nicolas Grenier
Exhibition review by Marie-Ève Charron
Le Devoir(Feb 2020)
[Read here]

Audio / Video / Text

A few selections:

Sobey Art Awards 2019: Nicolas Grenier
Short video presentation of my work (2019)
[Watch here]

The Fatal Optimism of the Bar Graph: Nicolas Grenier
Text by Ezrha Jean Black, Artillery (2018)
[Read here]

Podcast Into This / Episode #5 : Nicolas Grenier

Interview with Marx Ruiz-Wilson (2017)
[Listen here]

Le temps de l’œuvre, le temps du travail / The Time of The Work
Catalogue of the project (2016)

[View PDF in English + Français]

Nicolas Grenier: Structures
2018. Monograph, 100p.

Text by Saelan Twerdy:
Nicolas Grenier’s Working Systems
[Read in English + Français]

Interview by François Le Tourneux:
Mapping Paradox
[Read in English + Français]

Book available at:
Galerie Bradley Ertaskiran
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles


Nicolas Grenier holds a BFA from Concordia University and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. He attended residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Saas-Fee Summer institute of Art in Berlin and the Banff Center. His work has been exhibited at the Power Plant (Toronto), the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (Québec), gallery Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Galerie Bradley Ertaskiran (Montréal), Gagosian Gallery (Athens), Denny Dimin Gallery (Hong Kong), the Bruges Triennial of Art and Architecture (Belgium), the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Commonwealth & Council (Los Angeles) and Union Gallery (London). His work is collected by the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, the Royal Bank of Canada, the National Bank of Canada, the Caisse de Dépôt du Québec, the Progressive Art Collection and others. Grenier won the 2016 Prix Pierre-Ayot from the City of Montreal (2016), and was shortlisted for the 2019 Sobey Art Award 2019. He lives and works in Montreal and Los Angeles, and is represented by Galerie Bradley Ertaskiran and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.


Galerie Bradley Ertaskiran

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

Nicolas Grenier