Nicolas Grenier uses painting and the coding of colour to investigate political, economic, cultural, and social spaces. His interests lie in the distorted connections between the these systems and the principles or absence of principles at the root of these systems. His artworks—primarily paintings and architectural installations but also drawings, prints, videos, and artist books—translate theoretical and philosophical queries into visual and physical form. Grenier borrows freely from the language of architecture, design, abstraction, and diagrams to imagine dysfunctional models or structures that question the ways in which our current neo-liberal system shapes the social landscape.
Though most of Grenier’s work addresses societal or topical issues in openly critical ways, it is never unidirectional or moralizing. By translating theoretical problems into visual systems reliant upon design, composition, and color, a subjective space is created with room for the viewer to insert their own thoughts and feelings. Grenier blends the analytical with the poetic; architectural rigor with psychedelic renderings; geometric abstraction with text elements; and diagrams with color fields. He states: “My work creates physical manifestations of ideas that include problematic inconsistencies or ‘visual surpluses,’ allowing the viewer to understand that ideologies are imperfect, porous, and collapsible. It unpacks political human experience and creates a space for critical discourse that moves away from the political debate and approaches philosophy with self-awareness.”
Nicolas Grenier lives and works in Montréal and Los Angeles, CA. He received his MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA in 2010 and his BFA from Concordia University in Montréal, Canada in 2004. He is a 2019 finalist for the Sobey Award, Canada's top prize for artists under 40 years old. He attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2016 and in the same year was awarded the 2016 Prix Pierre-Ayot by the City of Montréal. Nicolas Grenier’s work has been included in the 2015 Bruges Triennial of Art and Architecture in Bruges, Belgium, and the 2014 Biennale de Montréal at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal. He has been exhibited throughout the US, Canada, and Europe, including Dumbfounded Prophets and One Day Mismatched Anthems Will Be Shouted In Tune at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles; Precarious Geographies at Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran, Montréal; Giles at Gagosian Gallery, Athens; The City And The City at Denny Gallery, New York; Promised Land Template at Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles; The Work of the Work at University of California, Santa Barbara; Marginal Revolutions at KUAD Gallery, Istanbul; and Corner-Thru at Choi&Lager Gallery, Cologne. His work is included in collections in Canada and the US, including the Musée Nationale des Beaux-Arts du Québec and the Loto-Québec collection as well as numerous private and corporate collections.
The gallery is pleased to announce that Nicolas Grenier is a fellow and part of the international artist residency at ZK/U Center for Art and Urbanistics. While he is there he will be working on a project based on a system allowing a paradigm shift toward a post-capitalist economic culture. At this stage he is working with a programmer to build a non-monetary exchange mechanisms, while also designing the architecture for a common pool of resources that could be shared between people in a small group, a neighborhood or a city.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is pleased to announce that Nicolas Grenier's painting From Our Position, Yours is a Mystery (2017), was acquired by the Musée D'Art Contemporain De Montréal, Canada. This work will also be show in upcoming group show, Des Horizons D'Attente, which will showcase the museum's 21 new aquisitions.
The annual Sobey Art Award is Canada's most prestigious prize for contemporary artists. Established in 2002, the award honors Canadian artists 40 years of age or under, who have exhibited their work in a public or commercial art gallery within 18 months of being nominated.
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is proud to announce that Nicolas Grenier is a finalist for the 2019 Sobey Art Award. The Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada will present the 2019 Sobey Art Award exhibition at the Art Gallery of Alberta in Edmonton. The exhibition presents the work of the five outstanding Canadian artists who have been shortlisted for the 2019 Sobey Art Award.
Across town, in downtown L.A., Luis de Jesus Los Angeles has a trifecta of shows that engage architecture in different ways. Nicolas Grenier uses a labyrinth structure as a site for presenting diagrammatic paintings that chart questions of governance (and more metaphysical questions of color), while in a separate space, painter Laura Karetzky compellingly riffs on the nature of the window — as structure, but also as metaphor. In addition, artist Edra Soto dwells on the memories and social signifiers embedded in architecture, reproducing brise soileil structures typical of vernacular Puerto Rican design, but placing within them tiny transparency viewers that feature images of people and places.
Montreal-based painter Nicolas Grenier places recognizable diagrammatic shapes in colourful gradients to mimic political affiliation graphs and charts. While viewing the artwork, visitors are provided with an Approval Matrix sheet—via PDF for online visits—to map their positions on the current state of the world and where it’s headed.
J'ai rendez-vous avec Nicolas Grenier dans so atelier de l'îlot Bellechasse. Ce n'est pas la première fois que j'y recontre des artistes, mais il se pourrait bien que ce soit la dernière... / I have an appointment with Nicolas Grenier in his workshop on the Bellechasse block. It is not the first time that I meet artists there, but it may well be the last ...
CBC Listens IDEAS with Nahlah Ayed interviews the four 2019 Sobey Art Awards Finalists across two episodes, "The New Masters: Sobey Art Awards: Part 1 & 2." Nicolas Grenier discusses his practice and two projects, The Time of Work and Vertically Integrated Socialism.
"Painting is an interesting medium — it's old and traditional, and in that respect it has inherent qualities that keep it grounded. It is the most primary visual language, pigments on a flat surface, and to me it acts as a constant reminder of the temporality and physicality of our bodies. By contrast, the types of socio-political power dynamics that I often explore are rather intangible, diffused and abstract."
Concordia grad Nicolas Grenier has been shortlisted for one of the world’s most prestigious contemporary art prizes, the Sobey Art Award. Global’s Tim Sargeant meets the Montreal artist who could walk away with a $100,000 prize.
Concordia grad Nicolas Grenier, BFA 04, is among five shortlisted candidates in the running for the Sobey Art Award, the largest prize in Canada for young artists. The prestigious prize for contemporary Canadian art is awarded annually to a Canadian 40 or younger who has exhibited work in a public or commercial art gallery in the previous 18 months.
The Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada are delighted to announce the five finalists for the 2019 Sobey Art Award. As one of the world's most prestigious contemporary art prizes, the Sobey Art Award is presented annually to a Canadian visual artist age 40 and under."The Sobey Art Award helps to keep the National Gallery of Canada current within the dynamic landscape of contemporary art in Canada. It offers invaluable opportunities to exchange ideas between curators and artists across the country, and the chance to learn about a myriad of different artistic practices." notes Dr. Sasha Suda, CEO and Director of the National Gallery of Canada.
The Sobey Art Foundation and National Gallery of Canada have named the five finalists for the 2019 Sobey Art Award, which is presented annually to a Canada-based artist age 40 or younger. The finalists represent Canada’s five geographic regions, with Nicolas Grenier representing Québec. An exhibition of works by the short-listed artists will open at the Art Gallery of Alberta on October 5, and the 2019 Sobey Art Award winner—to be revealed on November 15—will receive 100,000 Canadian dollars ($75,300).
A Toronto artist showing in Berlin, a Montrealer working in Los Angeles and an Inuvialuk artist based in Calgary are among this year’s finalists for the $100,000 Sobey Art Award. The leading visual-art prize for younger artists, the award recognizing Canadian artists 40 and under from five regional categories, will be announced in November.
Even before pie charts and bar graphs, before we’re plotting curves and breaking down conic sections in algebra and analytic geometry, we become very accustomed to the graphic visual representation of every kind of trend, concept, and systematized data or information. It almost goes hand in hand with the way we structure ideas, systems, and organizations.The visual concepts become part and parcel of the systems and ideas they express. They become integral to the way we extrapolate, track progress, draw conclusions, predict outcomes.
IntoThis Podcast is delighted to present our conversation with Montreal artist Nicolas Grenier. With an impressive display of talent, Nicolas lays down a path for self-scrutiny paved with paintings, architectural installations, videos, texts, etc. His works both, seduce and confront the viewer with formalist elements and objective imagery. He holds a BSA from Concordia University and a MFA from the California Institute of the arts. He is represented by Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran in Montreal and by Luis de Jesus Los Angeles in LA.
Même si elles sont conçues individuellement, les peintures de Nicolas Grenier se regroupent autour de ses préoccupations socio-environnementales. L'artiste de 35 ans, qui vit en partie à Los Angeles, a été marqué par l'élection de Donald Trump à la présidence des États-Unis et par sa coïncidence avec la montée des partis d'extrême droite en Europe. / Even if they are designed individually, Nicolas Grenier's paintings are grouped around his socio-environmental concerns. The 35-year-old artist, who lives in part in Los Angeles, was marked by the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States and by its coincidence with the rise of far-right parties in Europe.
Upon coming up with this idea, Grenier then asked himself: “How do I, as a painter, visually display [it]?” The artist, who sometimes spends months developing his projects, admitted he liked the idea of land as a starting point for the pieces in Precarious Geographies. He used it to build upon the ideas and concepts in his paintings.
Nicolas Grenier’s Vertically Integrated Socialism, presented at Centre Clark from May 18 to June 23, is also a kind of ambiguous moral fable. Grenier’s “architectural fiction,” delivered as a live lecture-performance by artist with video accompaniment, takes the form of a condo pitch presentation and warps it into something vaguely dystopian. Originally conceived in the post-crash aftermath of 2009, while he was a student at CalArts with a studio in Los Angeles’ Skid Row, the project is an attempt to conceive a “Machiavellian solution” (i.e., one that “solves” a problem by dispensing with ethical considerations) to the overlapping problems of homelessness, gentrification and real-estate speculation.
Aude Moreau and Nicolas Grenier are conceptual artists who use the forms and symbols of architecture to make social and political statements in the guise of great visual art. They were recently honoured by the city of Montreal and the Contemporary Art Galleries Association. Moreau won the Prix Louis-Comtois for a mid-career artist, worth $10,000, and Grenier won the Prix Pierre-Ayot for an artist under 35, worth $7,500.
This past summer, in a stand-alone cube not much bigger than a closet, Montreal-and-LA-based artist Nicolas Grenier reversed the give-and-take polarities of art-world commerce. For The Time of the Work, Grenier invited 14 artists and one collective to contribute works to the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery’s “SIGHTINGS”project series.
Un projet original intitulé Le temps de l'oeuvre, le temps du travail débutera lundi dans l'espace d'exposition SIGHTINGS de l'Université Concordia. Cet été, des amateurs d'art vont acquérir une oeuvre d'art en restant dans le cube transparent SIGHTINGS le temps que l'artiste a mis pour la créer. / An original project called The Time of the Work will begin on Monday in the SIGHTINGS exhibition space at Concordia University. This summer, art lovers will acquire a work of art while staying in the transparent SIGHTINGS cube the time it took for the artist to create it.
Aujourd'hui, dans les grandes villes du monde, la manière dont nous concevons le développement immobilier et l'urbanisme est constamment remise en question par la croissance démographique, la migration, le fossé grandissant entre les riches et les pauvres. / Today, in the big cities of the world, the way we understand real estate development and urban planning is constantly challenged by demographic growth, migration, the widening gap between the rich and the poor.
There’s something unnervingly sinister in Nicolas Grenier’s Promised Land Template (2014). The work’s looming wooden exterior dominated one of the Biennale’s central galleries with a mysterious, monolithic weight. On one side, a doorway leads into a small interior cell. A potted cactus sits on the tiled floor. A pair of paintings hang lit by a false skylight, their desert ochres, pinks and blues mapped by texts that hint at utopian dreams. It’s another world; calm, eerie, claustrophobic. For Grenier, who splits time between Montreal and Los Angeles, it’s a metaphor for the failed systems of integration and immigration, a transitory space that at once promises and denies hope.
Nicolas Grenier’s Promised Land Template (2014), an elegant, corporate-looking folly, made of wood, that fast-forwards viewers into a honey-coloured dystopia. The tomb-like structure suggests an art gallery in which glowing paintings on warm walls invoke the digital in their colour and graphics style, and speak to the displacement of ethnic populations. The central painting, recalling a labelled illustration, represents the “End of the Line: Designated area for problematic population groups,” which cynically offers up a mock utopia with “green grass,” “decent facilities” and “proper graves” interred in “indifferent dirt.”
La iglesia del Gran Seminario acoge la obra Vertically Integrated Socialism del artista canadiense Nicolas Grenier. Propone un alojamiento experimental que integra toda la pirámide social en un único edificio, que expresa y critica la estratificación de la estructura social. / The Church of the Grand Seminary houses the work Vertically Integrated Socialism by Canadian artist Nicolas Grenier. He proposes an experimental accommodation that integrates the entire social pyramid in a single building, which expresses and criticizes the stratification of the social structure.
As it happens these are extremely interesting, held together in an engaging architectural installation, a wooden box with weird traction sandpaper flooring, by local artist Nicolas Grenier, and one of them, Incoming Flux (2014), in oil and acrylic on wood, is among the most intriguing and accomplished paintings I’ve seen for a long while. But it is typical that these paintings are seemingly only considered acceptable for the Biennale because they deal with a subject matter, a topic, a social or intellectual issue, rather than just being purely visually or aesthetically rewarding.
Nicolas Grenier's paintings reference visual maps of information that merge abstraction with polemics. They take their cues from data visualizations where gradients are often used to depict transitions from one state to another, often with arrows that flow in multiple directions indicating the different ways that information can move. Under the title "One Day Mismatched Anthems Will Be Shouted in Tune" Grenier creates a suite of paintings in which colors are mixed to form earth-toned gradients sharing space with cryptic texts and looping arrows.
Par des moyens symboliques et architecturaux, Nicolas Grenier transpose la réalité des populations apatrides en une expérience pénétrante. Son œuvre Promised Land Templateest présentée au Musée d’art contemporain (MAC) dans le cadre de la Biennale de Montréal. / By symbolic and architectural means, Nicolas Grenier transposes the reality of stateless populations into a penetrating experience. His work Promised Land Template is presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) as part of the Biennale de Montréal.