Artist based in Brooklyn, NY
Nicholas Moenich, Portrait of the artist.
Tell us about yourself, what's your background?
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio with an Italian-American mother and a father who worked at an engine-casting plant for Ford. I think that sort of mechanical-factory-smokestack imagery had an influence on me at a young age as well as my father’s emphasis on doing things with the hands, be it wrestling or fishing. We would often go fishing on Lake Erie or go to Ontario, Canada. I had a speech impediment when I was a child so I always felt more comfort in expressing myself visually than verbally. Starting off at a young age, I would constantly draw the characters from my older brother’s comic books. I studied painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art for my BFA and Hunter College for my MFA.
untitled (Tumour of Pride, 2021), 2021, 26 x 22 inches, acrylic on canvas.
untitled (Lust, 2021), 2021, 42 x 36 inches, acrylic on canvas
"Often my paintings start with a word or phrase from a song, which I use as a vehicle to draw out a composition with the corresponding letter forms. It is a way of making decisions and dividing the space."
untitled (Paradise 22), 2022, 42 x 38 inches, acrylic on canvas
What are you currently working on and where did the inspiration for it come from?
I am currently working on a new body of work using oil paint for the first time in about 10 years. I want these paintings to be more colorful and have a more complex sense of space. I am interested in the historical aspect of oil painting.
Innovation does not only happen in the field of technology — it occurs everyday in a creative practice. What do you do for inspiration?
I listen to a wide variety of music that inspires me - metal, rap, country, ambient, all sorts. When I was younger, I played guitar in many bands around Cleveland. I do not play music anymore but it had an influence on me and I often think about music in relation to making a painting.
Looking through the gamut of art history is also particularly inspiring.
untitled (Triple Threat, 2021), 2021, 69.5 x 54 inches, acrylic on canvas
Describe your practice and process. Where do ideas start for you? In the studio or being in the world?
I think my world is my studio. Everything starts from drawing, usually sketching around with a formal idea that gets repeated. I try to have my setup ready to go and then execute the work as directly as possible, be it with a brush or pencil.
untitled (Mandrake, 2019), 2019, 68 x 56 inches, acrylic on canvas.
How do you make your work, does it start with a sketch?
Often my paintings start with a word or phrase from a song, which I use as a vehicle to draw out a composition with the corresponding letter forms. It is a way of making decisions and dividing the space. The text also provides a mood or character for the piece. I work on one piece at a time, usually I do not make a preliminary sketch. I often make multiple pieces in a row exploring a similar idea. My black paintings came out of trying to imagine a painting that is something like a combination of punk-DIY-photocopied show flyers of my youth with medieval illuminated manuscripts.
untitled (Flaying of Marsyas, Heads or Tails), 2019, 84 x 72 inches, acrylic on canvas.
Do you have your own studio ritual? What does that look like for you?
I think having a very simple ritual of just showing up to the studio on a daily basis and putting on the studio clothes is something special. Also the constant tidying up and organizing is important to me.
untitled (Execute Bitter Prophet From Whale’s Belly, 2021), 2021, 84 x 72 inches, acrylic on canvas.
Who are your biggest influences?
Here is a list of artists whose artwork I think about the most: Carroll Dunham, Al Held, Carravaggio, Tintoretto, Tomma Abts, R. Crumb, David Lynch, Frank Stella, Ellen Berkenblit, Malcolm Morley
untitled (Inferno 2022), 2022, 26 x 22”, acrylic on canvas.
Are there books or films that are an important source of inspiration?
Carl Jung’s writings, especially the Red Book. The Book of Kells.
untitled ((Green) Grudge July), 2022, 26 x 22”, acrylic on canvas.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Learn by doing.
untitled (Push It, 2022), 2022, 40 x 30”, acrylic on canvas.
What is the best advice you would give to other artists?
Make the artwork you would make as if no one else was looking.