The Creators of NYC: Geometric Artist Aakash Nihalani
Josh Wool spent a decade as an executive chef, opening restaurants across the south. But all that changed in 2010, when the carpal tunnel in his hands meant he could no longer work. To keep from going stir crazy, he picked up a camera and found his next calling. Two years, thousands of portraits, and a move to New York later, Wool is documenting the people who inspire him on a daily basis. Welcome to Creators of NYC.
Aakash Nihalani is at the forefront of the next generation of modern artists working in New York. His work in spray paint and tape can be found not only on the walls of private collectors but in and around the streets of New York. I met up with Aakash in his Williamsburg studio, where he was preparing for a solo show.
How do you describe your art?
It’s hard … I usually direct people to look up an image on their phone. But I think at the barest, the work is about perspective, playing with our idea of three-dimensional space within a two-dimensional plane using tape as my primary medium, often in urban environments.
I was part of a student exhibition where I exhibited a set of silkscreen studies involving the cube. I was using blue painter’s tape to hang the prints and noticed that the shadow cast off of a nearby pedestal matched the shape in my prints. Instinctively, I outlined an isometric rectangle in the shadow with the tape. When I started using it outside, I found it was a great medium because I could put up a line, and if I didn’t like it I could always just take it down … it’s innocuous, I didn’t have to damage anything to put up the art I wanted to see in the public. And after working on paintings in the studio for so long, the temporary nature of the tape was refreshing.
How did growing up in New York influence you as an artist?
I was born in Queens, but moved to Jersey when I was 2, so I mostly grew up in the suburbs. I came back to the city for college in 2004. I’ve always found New York to be a place to bust ass and believe in something different.
What’s a typical day like for you?
My day usually depends on the project i’m working on. With the show coming up I’ve tried getting into more of a routine: work out in the morning, then head to the studio to work on paintings till …
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere really. I’m mostly just motivated by the need to keep making work and getting better.
You’re about to have your first solo show in Chelsea. Is there a lot of pressure that comes along with that?
I don’t think the pressure I feel is from the fact that it’s in Chelsea, I’m excited about that. I’m more burdened with my own expectations of the work itself.
What can we expect to see there?
Large wall sculptures constructed from wood in a bold, bright palette. Paintings that shift foreground and background the longer you look at them.
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