Nicolas Grenier “Esquisses d’un inventaire” at Bradley Ertaskiran, Montréal

Haunted by the anticipation of an increasingly unpredictable future, Nicolas Grenier’s recent body of work reads as metaphysical landscapes that examine the limits of reality. Informed by the awareness of a progressively quantified existence, Grenier’s visual language relies on both dependency and interference of information classification systems. Through a series of drawings and paintings in varying dimensions, the works emerge from the horizon whose view is obstructed by spatial intervention.

Central to the exhibition is Grenier’s rendition of the world map. Unlike the familiar Mercator projection with disproportionate landmasses, Grenier’s version shifts and alters topographical scales more openly. Spanning across 18 feet and devoid of borders, the reimagined process of territorial mapping indirectly addresses the bias embedded in extractive networks of nationalism and coloniality. Drawn from an angled and aerial perspective—while still embodying a top-down power structure—some areas were resized in relative proximity to more specific regions depicted from true satellite distance. As he includes identifiable landmarks and passing clouds, Grenier plays at the ever-changing nature of looking at, and being in, the world.

In addition to scale, the experience of time is also addressed in Grenier’s drawings. Primarily working with charcoal, Grenier’s architectural and iconographical elements are set against the backdrop of a mystical landscape. Monumental structures and familiar objects appear smaller against the heavenly quality of Grenier’s mountainous terrain and vast skies. If icons stand as evidence of a specific era, the mix of temporal identities—embedded in each drawing—dissolves the significance of our material world. Further guided by shifting perspectives, his drawings allow for an illusionary pull that adds to the corporeal weight of the exhibition.

Juxtaposing the enormity of his more figurative drawings, Grenier also includes vibrant paintings in keeping past painted works. Through a variety of miniature and larger paintings, he demonstrates mastery over colour and dimension by playing with tone. Seamlessly transitioning between neutral and vibrant colours, the works are reminiscent of dreamscapes that contribute to an imagery of concealment. In catastrophizing the scale of images selected through data collection and material hybridity, the exhibition alludes to a rhetoric of eternity that invites us to stand against the edge of a substantial abyss.
Vania Djelani

at Bradley Ertaskiran, Montréal
until April 22, 2023

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