GN8PROJECT : So Nicholas, what inspires you most as an artist?
NICHOLAS MOENICH : Inspiration comes from many places, thoughts and feelings. Some things are namable like friends, family, my cats, science, music, etc. and other inspiration is just more intrinsic, like its just there. Inspiration is hard to pinpoint because I think that just being alive and perceptive of the world around us is quite inspiring. Within that I mean both the beautiful and disturbing, the peaceful and the conflicted. I think all art is made to try to get at some sort of truth.
GN8PROJECT : How do you create your compositions? For instance, do you have a certain process or is it more spontaneous?
NICHOLAS MOENICH : My compositions are a kind of controlled improvisation. I make a lot of drawings with a particular shape and color scheme in mind. Eventually I just go for the painting and try to treat it just like a big drawing. It’s like playing music – you practice so much that it becomes natural.
GN8PROJECT : The paintings featured on your website are pretty large-scale, the smallest one being 68×48 inches. How long does it generally take you to complete a canvas of that size?
NICHOLAS MOENICH : The length of time it takes to make a painting is not that interesting to me. It is so relative, I spend much more time preparing the canvas (gessoing and sanding) then I do “painting,” but i think that is all part of the work. I don’t want my paintings to be about “oh look how much work the artist did or didn’t do.” I’m not interested in work that is labored or that is dashed off for no reason. I’m interested in specificity and that can come in many ways. With all that being said, I do make my paintings in one take as a way to limit myself, and if it doesn’t work I scrap it. I have also played around with giving myself time-limits and other games, like one hour to make a painting.
GN8PROJECT : Would you say that you have a favorite artist?
NICHOLAS MOENICH : I’m not going to pick one. Of course, I really like the late, figurative work of Philip Guston. I’m most interested in the terms of the actual painting- setting up conditions and limitations for himself and then just going for it. I am interested in how his paintings are more like big drawings. The De Kooning show that was recently at the MOMA was incredibly inspiring. He has this total reckless inhibition on the canvas and complete exploration of oil paint. I really like painting, but I am interested in a variety of art. I look for art that is specific in making an experience that the viewer can’t argue with; like the artwork is talking and saying “I am right here, right now, deal with it.” I am fascinated by Donald Judd. I recently went to Marfa, and I think it’s going to have a huge impact on my next body of work.
GN8PROJECT : Any particular reason why you have chosen painting and drawing as your two main mediums?
NICHOLAS MOENICH : Painting’s and drawing’s directness and simple form of expression and thought (body-tool-paint-mark) speak to the human condition at its essence. The absurdity of humanity and the burden of consciousness are all wrapped up in the ridiculous notion that pigment on a surface does something.
GN8PROJECT : Which painting on your website do you feel represents you best as an artist?
NICHOLAS MOENICH : Perhaps, Hey Lover. It’s the largest painting from that body of work. I like working large because it forces this intrinsic indeterminacy in the process because of its physical size. But the main reason that I work this scale is the viewing experience that I am trying to create. I wanted this body of work to be like some sort of odd family of creatures that impose on the viewer, and that has to do with scale.
GN8PROJECT : What music do you listen to when you work?
NICHOLAS MOENICH : When I made this recent body of work, I think I was mainly listening to High on Fire and Bruce Springsteen. I really like the “wall of sound” aspect and anthem-like quality that they both have. It’s a call to action.
GN8PROJECT : Any advice for someone who’s about to graduate from art school?
NICHOLAS MOENICH : I just graduated and I’m trying to figure things out, but I don’t think school is the end-all, be-all. Even though I went through a lot of school, I think obviously I have learned more about art by going to museums and galleries, talking with my friends, working a lot of art-related jobs and of course just making a lot of paintings. I think most artists learned by doing things, not by sitting in a class room.