At the studio of Matt Mignanelli

Matt Mignanelli

New York, USA.


Tell us a little about yourself, where did your passion for art begin and how did it become your work?

My passion for art began as a child and has been a lifelong pursuit. The painting has always fascinated me and continues to engage me endlessly. Not only is it a language for me to communicate, it’s how I continue to explore life. For me, the pursuit of painting is all-consuming, so it was a natural path that it became my life’s work.

We would like to know more about your style, what meanings do you want to convey to the viewer? How can it be achieved with this geometry?

The work is based in light, cast shadow, structure, and architectural elements. The visual relationship that results represents the balance between the manmade and natural world. I really love that such a complex relationship can be represented simply through light and shadow. In my work, I’m constantly exploring how I can create movement within that space through the arrangement of shape.

The paintings are gridded out with a ruler and pencil but are all painted completely free-hand, the evidence of the human hand within the hard edge is extremely important to me. The splashes of paint build up organically as the brush returns repeatedly to the bucket of paint while the paintings are made flat on a large table. Those trace elements serve as a record of the process and movement of the hand while creating the work.

Within this newest body of work, I’ve begun working with washes of the same blue paint to create emotive fields that bisect the piece. I love the depth and contrasting feel of the two parts of each work that unify albeit a tenuous balance.

How do you think, is it necessary to have meanings put by the author in contemporary art? After all, many even famous paintings make no sense. It is interesting to know your opinion.

No, I don’t feel it’s necessary, and even when meaning is put forth by the artist I have always felt it’s extremely important to leave room for the viewer to enter the work with their own thoughts. In art, the viewer brings so much of themselves forward when viewing a work and is able to project personal experience into the work. To me that engagement is critical, otherwise, you’re left strictly as a voyeur.

What does colour mean for you? Is it possible to tell your mood by the colour in your works?

Color for me is a means to convey experience. Memory and one’s relationships to place and things are linked directly to color. Color and mood can certainly be linked, but it’s not how I utilize it in my work.

Blue is my first foray back into color, after having worked in just black, white, and grey for the past 6 years. Navy blue is both utilitarian through its use painting mailboxes, dumpsters, doors, and linked to the natural world in twilight and the sea. I love how that duality fits into the conversation of my work.

Tell us about your studio, what kind of place is it? How long have you been working there?

My studio is on the second floor of an industrial building in Bushwick, Brooklyn with a wall of windows. It gets beautiful warm late afternoon light through the old factory windows, and in the distance, you can see the sunset over the Manhattan skyline. I’ve been working in my current studio for about 2 years, and I worked around the corner for 5 years. It’s a neighborhood filled with metal shops, food processors, shipping warehouses, and printing presses. The work ethic that surrounds my commute to and from the studio inspires and drives me.

What does your usual working day look like in the studio? What are your habits? What music do you usually listen to?

I like to keep a pretty regimented schedule. I arrive at the studio by 9:45 every morning and typically leave around 6. I bring a lunch or grab tacos in the neighborhood around 12:30. Double espresso at 3:30 – 4:00. I go in phases with music, sometimes I listen to Coltrane, Miles Davis, and other jazz. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts recently while I work which I really enjoy, and sometimes I’m just working in silence. I enjoy that too,  just be alone with the paintings.

What are your plans for the end of this year?

I’m going to continue with the wash fields, seeing where that takes me in the work. I feel like I have a lot more work to do with those. I’m starting to work on a solo exhibition for Galerie Clemens Gunzer in Zurich which will open in October, and a large work for a group exhibition curated by Paul Efstathiou at Hollis Taggart Gallery in Chelsea.

Your thoughts that you would like to share with our readers.

I have a solo exhibition of new paintings, Nocturnes that will be on view at Denny Gallery in New York through August 17th, as well as a new monograph which was published by the gallery to coincide with the exhibition. This is the first time I’ve shown the wash fields, I’m excited by these works.

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