Working on his paintings, drawings, and ceramics from his LA studio, Nick McPhail is inspired by the unique architecture of his Californian hometown, but he does not see realistic representation as the most important feature of his work. Instead, in luminously textured and coloured oil paintings, he encourages us to look with a fresh perspective on views that we might usually take for granted. Inspired by the way that collage uses layers to conceal and reveal certain elements, Nick overlays and overlaps his oil paints to explore the way that colour, light, and texture interact.
At Michigan State University, Nick began his university career by studying Audio Production before switching to Studio Art, and the influence of these musical elements shine through in his paintings. Just as musicians use moments of silence and quiet undertones to create contrasts in their music, in Nick’s paintings as well, the importance of the empty space is carefully considered. By highlighting certain elements and downplaying others, he explores how, very often, it is the things that seem the most blank and mundane that provide the most opportunity for thought.
Nick regularly exhibits his paintings, both in galleries and in more unusual locations. Last year his collection ‘Windows’ was exhibited at Ochi Gallery in LA, while a permanent installation of his 12-foot-high acrylic painting has towered over the busy main road on Sunset Boulevard since 2019.
We talk to Nick about the importance of boredom, the appeal of architecture, and the meditative practice of art.