Piecing Together the Abstract

Photos by Alex Mazur.

Have you ever let your mind wander while watching passing clouds floating through the sky? Suddenly those white wisps look like a sailboat, or that fluffy cloud looks unmistakably like a cuddly bunny. This psychological phenomenon is called pareidolia, an instance where the mind recognizes familiar patterns in shapes that aren’t actually there.

Patrick Nunziata, a young artist from Toronto, inspired by this trick of the mind, uses similar symbolic interpretation to form his abstract paintings.

totes-1150990He begins each piece of work by laying out text on his canvases, using words inspired by anything from a McDonalds bag lying around his studio to breaking news headlines. He then uses the positioning of those letters to construct a painted pattern overtop until the words become obscured. There is therefore a recognizable message inspiring the work, but the meaning is hidden from the viewer’s understanding.

“The viewer will be looking at the painting and they feel like they’re reading, but they’re unable to comprehend what they’re reading. It sort of opens up people’s ways of looking.”

Nunziata believes that artists in all forms, whether it’s poetry, film, or painting, are currently playing with the way people interpret meaning; creating layered work that keeps people’s minds active and critical. He strives to create pieces that offer a new perspective each time they’re viewed, like peeling back layers of a never-ending onion.

A graduate from the University of Western Ontario, Nunziata said his professors there helped him transform his natural inclination for art into something more refined.

“I started out being really interested in graphic arts, like graffiti and that sort of realm and when I went into university, it matured into this; the shapes broke up into this abstract field type of art.”

p1150297His pieces are as cerebral as they are beautiful; they are meant to admired but also to be deciphered, even if they can never be quite figured out. This is what makes his art fresh and interesting.

“You could have a beautiful painting, a portrait of someone, a picture of a horse, or an architectural painting of a building, but that will always be what it’s perceived,” said the young artist. “I’m trying to make it so open, so accessible, it can be anything that one really wants it to. In that sense, creating art that won’t expire.”

4-material-for-beausejour_40-47_nunziata-1Nunziata also uses bold colours, rich pastels, and unique mixtures of patterns to create pieces that can’t be ignored; which is why in some cases you can catch a streak of scintillating glitter running through his canvases.

“I wanted to appropriate that sense of that superficial, poppy sort of feeling that comes with using glitter, and associate that with the fine arts,” said Nunziata. He hopes one day to use Swarovski Crystals, if only his wallet will allow it. The use of varied and juxtaposing materials is also a way that the artists likes to break up traditional interpretation of meaning in art.

Along with his personal projects, Nunziata has side projects that keep him busy. He does commissioned work, and has created unique pieces out of logos and brand colours for the likes of Canada’s Walk of Fame, TD Bank and RBC Bank.

He has also gotten in the handbag business. His visually jarring prints lend well to the clutches and purses that he decorates with his bold patterns.

In fact, Nunziata uses the boldness of his paintings to make his works accessible, so they works hanging on your wall or off your shoulder. His paintings draw viewers in with brightness and impact, and then invite them to get lost in their patterns to see whatever they want to see, like searching for shapes in the clouds on a sunny day.