Nick Irzyk’s paintings are like puzzles that can be decoded in form and in theory. The mosaic-like works have a multi-step creation process, leaving much to uncover than initially meets the eye. In addition to his painting, Nick is the Director of Step Sister Gallery. Nick lives and works in Queens, NY.
Your work is grounded in a lot of theory – both painterly and from other fields. Can you talk about the fields you are interested in and how they show up in your work?
There are some ideas I see as sitting adjacent to my work. I’m interested in principles of cybernetics as they relate to the social fabric of art making. How communication is processed, organized and released back is fertile ground. I think of Kippenberger’s concept of networked painting in much the same way. While not being overtly present in the work the theoretical helps in navigating what I’m doing.
Though from a distance it might look like you are painting on canvas, there’s more to you work than that. Can you explain the formal process you’ve adopted?
The majority of my paintings start with a drawing on foam core that is cut apart and reassembled on canvas. There is a topographic quality to the cuts that inform the control and handling of paint applied.
Do include distinct references to subject matter in your work?
The initial foam core drawings will depict some recognizable forms but recede from the cutting and painting. There is a degree of in-betweenness I want from the work where any representation dissolves before you are fully able to name it. I’ll also quote diagrams illustrating communication models and other regulatory systems. An abstract idea illustrated by shape and line is very analogous to painting.
How do you maintain a balance of color in your work?
Typically, I try to pluck the bright from the mud.
What other artists, living or dead, do you consider your work to in dialogue with?
I am very interested in the work of Henrik Olesen, Jutta Koether, Pope.L, Michaela Eichwald, Genesis P-Orridge, Michel Majerus, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Bob Thompson.
In addition to painting, you also work as Director of Step Sister Gallery. Do you find that the two roles influence one other?
It allows me to exercise my curatorial interests, I very much enjoy putting exhibitions together. The space itself can be challenging being mostly exposed brick and concrete walls. The work I show at Step Sister always has a degree of dialogue with the context of the gallery. I think of being an artist and a gallerist as being two sides of the same coin.
A solo exhibition of your work, NETWORKS, is currently on view at Columbus Property Management. Can you tell us about this show?
The exhibition consists of one large painting and a grouping of sculptural works that incorporate painted and collaged drawings, monoprints and other miscellaneous printed material adhered to industrial steel pipes. The sculptures frame the painting and delineate the gallery with commonly hidden structures like plumbing pipes.
What’s next for you? What are you excited about?
Step Sister is doing a gallery swap with The Pit in Los Angeles opening the first week of November.
At the end of every interview, we like to ask the artist to recommend a friend whose work you love for us to interview next. Who would you suggest?
Fellow artist and gallery operator Philip Hinge.