BRIMMING WITH TALENT

 MAGNETISM

                         AND AMBITION

CHARLIE NESI IS AN ARTIST 

FIENDING FOR HIS CHANCE

TO SPEAK TO THE WORLD 

 

 

 

 

 

interview and photos by Beata Kanter 


1/3


 

 

Beata Kanter: How did you get into the art business?

 

Charlie Nesi: I was living in Brooklyn and working for a tech company. The girl I was dating, she was an artist. She would leave canvases all over the apartment. I would come back late and just work on them all night. She’d wake up pissed that I fucked with her canvas but then people started coming over and they were like, “Listen, can we buy some of these?” I laughed it off for a while… until a couple of galleries started hollering at me. I thought at that point I could take over the world.

I was nowhere near ready.

Then I met Raphael Mazucco. He took me on and just showed me -- that’s what I should be doing. Art full-time.

 

BK: Wow. How did you meet him?

 

CN: I met him through a girlfriend of mine. We vibed one night and I ended up helping him paint a few pieces and drinking way too much tequila… but the point is I saw that I could do that. That’s really what I was trying to put all of this creative energy towards… creating something.

And so I was in this weird position.

I was living in Brooklyn, working for a tech company that wasn’t me... Finally I said fuck it -- quit my job, broke up with my girlfriend and moved out of my apartment in 24 hours.

 

BK: Talk about a quarter-life crisis

 

CN: Yeah... But shortly after I got picked up by a fund called Vaea -- a Venezuelan-American endowment for the arts.  They put me in this incredible residency in the middle of Juarez. I saw this culture… for me it was so rad. There was this dichotomy… Beautiful broken-down landscapes. Pastel colors that were just deteriorating to rubble. Crumbling in shadows cast by brand-new high rises.

Mexico has so much money but it’s also so poor. That’s why I started working with rust. I wanted to do something that took the ghetto out of its context. Suddenly you’d have to pay attention. See the beauty. That was my way of giving a voice to those people… That experience is my first time ever really immersing myself in a different place. And I want to just keep on getting that until I can’t get anymore.

 

BK: So you feel like NY isn’t necessarily an inspiring place for you to create?

 

CN: NY is always home but there are so many distractions here. The thing about New York when you’re an artist, at least when you’re starting off -- when you’re not in the studio you have to be out shaking hands with the right people at the right events.

It’s not even real because you’re so broke and you’re around this facade of shit. 

When I got off the plane to Mexico I just shut off, I turned social media off and I started reading up on all the masters from Picasso to Ad Reinhardt. All of these people that I look up to. Trying to create something that’s remotely close to this feeling that they give off.

If you can look at somebody’s work and it makes you feel different, whether you hate it or not, you’re still going to remember it. And I didn’t have that here (NYC). I didn’t have the desire to create something that was going to be bigger than myself. It was just like, okay let’s get a paycheck, here’s some work, and I’m an artist… But I don’t even think I’m an artist now…one day.

 

BK: What do you think the definition of an artist is anyway?

 

CN: I mean that’s… interesting. It’s interesting because I hate that fucking word. And I find myself having that exact conversation at least once a week with somebody from some walk of life. You don’t just put paint on a canvas or whatever medium you’re working on to be an artist.

You can be a stock broker.

You can be pitching deals in some way that nobody knows and changing the world.

You can be a porn star making 7 girls freak out at the same time.

I think that art is when you get to a certain point. And once you get to that point everything you touch is art.

 

BK: In other words, to become an artist, you have to master yourself.

 

CN: Exactly. And I think that art is the ability to help people see the world differently. And I think until you get to that point of mastering it, you can help them get a glimpse into the room that is the future. To truly become an artist you have to show them the room as an extension of yourself.

 

BK: Why do you think that people need to see the world differently?

 

CN: Because I want to see the world differently. We’re not supposed to stay in the same place. When I’m comfortable with the work that I make, that’s when I know that I need to move somewhere else or switch up the psyche a bit. We’re not supposed to be complacent.

 

 

 

 “Complacency is the death of art.”

 

 

 

BK: I get it. You want to keep evolving. What about your subconscious? How do you dream?

 

 

 

 

 


2/3


 

 

BK: The women in your life have really formed your career as an artist.

 

CN: Totally. I’ve learned more than I could from any book or any experience.

 

 

 

“Until you’ve had your heart ripped out a few times, you can’t let it bleed all over your canvas.”

 

 

 

I’ve learned a lot from women and they’ve brought me to certain places. It’s been negative a lot of the time, just because I’m super selfish.Whether I know it or not I have something that I must do. Because I know at a certain point it’ll be over and I’m not going to be here. I’m going to be really upset, probably looking up. Looking up thinking, “You could have done more”.

 

BK: Damn Charlie. You don’t believe in reincarnation?

 

CN: I do subscribe to the more Buddhist side of things. Raised Catholic but I think I was like 8 years old and saw that Keanu Reeves movie and tried to convert. What was it called again? Little Buddha?

 

BK: HA

 

CN: But regarding women…

 

 

 

“If you fall in love you really fall. The rest is just elevator music on to the next floor.”

 

 

 

I think that I’ve been so lucky to have women in my life that have been pivotal in helping me. Getting me to the next spot and teaching me to not be a total asshole.

 

BK: Do you feel like the inspiration for your work comes from your relationships?

 

CN: Yes. I think that, especially for me, if I go through a rough break up or some sort of adversity in love, I’ll think about it non-stop until I put it on canvas. Until I get it down in some kind of medium. Without that, even if I try to play it off, the woman never really leaves my head. Inspiration comes from everywhere. A subway ride, family, a night out... I love to party and I think at the right times it’s an inspiration.

It’s not meant to make or break anything by any means. If it does, you know you have a problem. But I think at this point in my life a lot of people I’m around like to subscribe to a lifestyle of… “when the moon is full we’ll howl at it”. And so I like to howl at it with them when the moon is full. It helps with the art work too.

 

 


3/3


 

 

 

BK: What is your relationship with drugs?

 

CN: Hallucinogens more later in life because when I was younger I tried them and I had a couple of bad trips and I was like, "Putting that shit on the shelf". But now I’m just so comfortable with myself and it just works as a way to transport 10 years ahead instead of having to wait and get old about it. You know, without a rainy day there’s no sunny day.

 

 

BK: I’m curious, what is your process like? Have you ever regretted a stroke? Or are you like the Tazmanian devil -- spinning around the room painting thousands of masterpieces in one night?

 

CN: Ha… It’s kind of like tripping. If you’re in the right head set, you don’t mind. If you do a bad stroke you immediately figure out a way to re-do it.

 

“You just work with where you’re going and you go with your intuition.”

 

There’s no practice swing, you just fucking swing away. But then there’s other times when you’re in a different mindset. I’ll look at a piece for two hours while pacing back and forth, do one stroke and then freak out. Lose it, get mad at everyone I know for no reason and paint over it in white. I think it comes down to being an artist. There’s no on and off, you’re just totally in it. And you don’t think about anything else except for what you’re doing. I think it was Basquiat that said “I don’t want to think about what I’m painting. I think about what’s going on around me.” There’s no separating you and it.

 

BK: How do you get started?

 

CN: I start with a blueprint.

 

 

The rest is just… what happens, happens. That’s why it’s so dangerous for me to live in my studio; I get to see the work all the time, so I never know when to walk away.

 

BK: You really need to walk away at some point.

 

CN: It’s so hard to know when, but yes. I’m getting better about it though. I mean I still think about it. If I was working on a piece and we were doing this interview I would be sleep walking through the interview, thinking about getting back to the piece. And that’s what I was saying about relationships and moving on. Until its all the way on the canvas…

 

BK: It’s in your head.

 

CN: Yeah.. That’s why I need music all the time. Music or the rain.. that’s the only time I sleep. I need some other… something to drown it out. I just always have so much going on. I feel like I’m under a clock.

 

 

That’s why Tim Burton is one of my biggest inspirations. Somebody who can take something as dark as death and make it absolutely beautiful.

 

BK: Does all of this self - instilled pressure hinder your quality of life?

 

CN: Totally.

 

I’m so envious of people who look like they don’t have a care in the world. Like, how is that possible? Draw me a fucking treasure map. 

I was the youngest of four brothers, I always had to fight for mine, so to speak. I was always super independent. My parents did very well for themselves and here I am--dropped out of business school after getting in early, supposed to do all of this other shit and suddenly I decide, “I’m going to be an artist”. And they believed in me even then…

 

BK: That’s huge.

 

CN: Yeah, I mean they let me think when I was doing something wrong that I was still right. And they let me run with that. They’re so supportive. There’s certain expectations but not with my art work; the one thing that’s always been for me. I think that’s why I’m so hard on myself. For once, nobody is telling me anything and I’m my own worst enemy in this situation. I’m used to playing a certain level of standards. And I’m always going to do that.

 

BK: That’s interesting because it’s not like you’re aiming for a certain point to level out, i.e. once I achieve this I can calm down with my wife and my picket fence and my dogs and you know.. comfort. It doesn’t sound like you’re ever going do that no matter how much you achieve. You’re just going to keep grinding away at yourself.

 

CN: Well, as long as my body still allows me to, I think, yeah. If I find a woman who is cool with that, that’s when I’ll have my counterpart.

I’m not going to get married just for the sake of getting married.

I’ve been close a couple of times.

Point being is that, when I’m comfortable I’m totally stoked to have kids and name them all Charlie, joking, and move to the countryside of Spain. My wife can have horses and we’ll have sex under candlelight every night. It’ll be dope.

But at the same time I have realistic expectations. And as comfortable as I would be doing that, I would still need to go to Tokyo or the middle of nowhere and just explore. But always come back to her because that’ll be my girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 for more on the artist, visit his IG @charliethekid

 

 

BRIMMING WITH TALENT

 MAGNETISM

                         AND AMBITION

CHARLIE NESI IS AN ARTIST 

FIENDING FOR HIS CHANCE

TO SPEAK TO THE WORLD 

 

 

 

 

 

interview and photos by Beata Kanter 


1/3


 

 

Beata Kanter: How did you get into the art business?

 

Charlie Nesi: I was living in Brooklyn and working for a tech company. The girl I was dating, she was an artist. She would leave canvases all over the apartment. I would come back late and just work on them all night. She’d wake up pissed that I fucked with her canvas but then people started coming over and they were like, “Listen, can we buy some of these?” I laughed it off for a while… until a couple of galleries started hollering at me. I thought at that point I could take over the world.

I was nowhere near ready.

Then I met Raphael Mazucco. He took me on and just showed me -- that’s what I should be doing. Art full-time.

 

BK: Wow. How did you meet him?

 

CN: I met him through a girlfriend of mine. We vibed one night and I ended up helping him paint a few pieces and drinking way too much tequila… but the point is I saw that I could do that. That’s really what I was trying to put all of this creative energy towards… creating something.

And so I was in this weird position.

I was living in Brooklyn, working for a tech company that wasn’t me... Finally I said fuck it -- quit my job, broke up with my girlfriend and moved out of my apartment in 24 hours.

 

BK: Talk about a quarter-life crisis

 

CN: Yeah... But shortly after I got picked up by a fund called Vaea -- a Venezuelan-American endowment for the arts.  They put me in this incredible residency in the middle of Juarez. I saw this culture… for me it was so rad. There was this dichotomy… Beautiful broken-down landscapes. Pastel colors that were just deteriorating to rubble. Crumbling in shadows cast by brand-new high rises.

Mexico has so much money but it’s also so poor. That’s why I started working with rust. I wanted to do something that took the ghetto out of its context. Suddenly you’d have to pay attention. See the beauty. That was my way of giving a voice to those people… That experience is my first time ever really immersing myself in a different place. And I want to just keep on getting that until I can’t get anymore.

 

BK: So you feel like NY isn’t necessarily an inspiring place for you to create?

 

CN: NY is always home but there are so many distractions here. The thing about New York when you’re an artist, at least when you’re starting off -- when you’re not in the studio you have to be out shaking hands with the right people at the right events.

It’s not even real because you’re so broke and you’re around this facade of shit. 

When I got off the plane to Mexico I just shut off, I turned social media off and I started reading up on all the masters from Picasso to Ad Reinhardt. All of these people that I look up to. Trying to create something that’s remotely close to this feeling that they give off.

If you can look at somebody’s work and it makes you feel different, whether you hate it or not, you’re still going to remember it. And I didn’t have that here (NYC). I didn’t have the desire to create something that was going to be bigger than myself. It was just like, okay let’s get a paycheck, here’s some work, and I’m an artist… But I don’t even think I’m an artist now…one day.

 

BK: What do you think the definition of an artist is anyway?

 

CN: I mean that’s… interesting. It’s interesting because I hate that fucking word. And I find myself having that exact conversation at least once a week with somebody from some walk of life. You don’t just put paint on a canvas or whatever medium you’re working on to be an artist.

You can be a stock broker.

You can be pitching deals in some way that nobody knows and changing the world.

You can be a porn star making 7 girls freak out at the same time.

I think that art is when you get to a certain point. And once you get to that point everything you touch is art.

 

BK: In other words, to become an artist, you have to master yourself.

 

CN: Exactly. And I think that art is the ability to help people see the world differently. And I think until you get to that point of mastering it, you can help them get a glimpse into the room that is the future. To truly become an artist you have to show them the room as an extension of yourself.

 

BK: Why do you think that people need to see the world differently?

 

CN: Because I want to see the world differently. We’re not supposed to stay in the same place. When I’m comfortable with the work that I make, that’s when I know that I need to move somewhere else or switch up the psyche a bit. We’re not supposed to be complacent.

 

 

 

 “Complacency is the death of art.”

 

 

 

BK: I get it. You want to keep evolving. What about your subconscious? How do you dream?

 

 

 

 

 


2/3


 

 

BK: The women in your life have really formed your career as an artist.

 

CN: Totally. I’ve learned more than I could from any book or any experience.

 

 

 

“Until you’ve had your heart ripped out a few times, you can’t let it bleed all over your canvas.”

 

 

 

I’ve learned a lot from women and they’ve brought me to certain places. It’s been negative a lot of the time, just because I’m super selfish.Whether I know it or not I have something that I must do. Because I know at a certain point it’ll be over and I’m not going to be here. I’m going to be really upset, probably looking up. Looking up thinking, “You could have done more”.

 

BK: Damn Charlie. You don’t believe in reincarnation?

 

CN: I do subscribe to the more Buddhist side of things. Raised Catholic but I think I was like 8 years old and saw that Keanu Reeves movie and tried to convert. What was it called again? Little Buddha?

 

BK: HA

 

CN: But regarding women…

 

 

 

“If you fall in love you really fall. The rest is just elevator music on to the next floor.”

 

 

 

I think that I’ve been so lucky to have women in my life that have been pivotal in helping me. Getting me to the next spot and teaching me to not be a total asshole.

 

BK: Do you feel like the inspiration for your work comes from your relationships?

 

CN: Yes. I think that, especially for me, if I go through a rough break up or some sort of adversity in love, I’ll think about it non-stop until I put it on canvas. Until I get it down in some kind of medium. Without that, even if I try to play it off, the woman never really leaves my head. Inspiration comes from everywhere. A subway ride, family, a night out... I love to party and I think at the right times it’s an inspiration.

It’s not meant to make or break anything by any means. If it does, you know you have a problem. But I think at this point in my life a lot of people I’m around like to subscribe to a lifestyle of… “when the moon is full we’ll howl at it”. And so I like to howl at it with them when the moon is full. It helps with the art work too.

 

 


3/3


 

 

 

BK: What is your relationship with drugs?

 

CN: Hallucinogens more later in life because when I was younger I tried them and I had a couple of bad trips and I was like, "Putting that shit on the shelf". But now I’m just so comfortable with myself and it just works as a way to transport 10 years ahead instead of having to wait and get old about it. You know, without a rainy day there’s no sunny day.

 

 

BK: I’m curious, what is your process like? Have you ever regretted a stroke? Or are you like the Tazmanian devil -- spinning around the room painting thousands of masterpieces in one night?

 

CN: Ha… It’s kind of like tripping. If you’re in the right head set, you don’t mind. If you do a bad stroke you immediately figure out a way to re-do it.

 

“You just work with where you’re going and you go with your intuition.”

 

There’s no practice swing, you just fucking swing away. But then there’s other times when you’re in a different mindset. I’ll look at a piece for two hours while pacing back and forth, do one stroke and then freak out. Lose it, get mad at everyone I know for no reason and paint over it in white. I think it comes down to being an artist. There’s no on and off, you’re just totally in it. And you don’t think about anything else except for what you’re doing. I think it was Basquiat that said “I don’t want to think about what I’m painting. I think about what’s going on around me.” There’s no separating you and it.

 

BK: How do you get started?

 

CN: I start with a blueprint.

 

 

The rest is just… what happens, happens. That’s why it’s so dangerous for me to live in my studio; I get to see the work all the time, so I never know when to walk away.

 

BK: You really need to walk away at some point.

 

CN: It’s so hard to know when, but yes. I’m getting better about it though. I mean I still think about it. If I was working on a piece and we were doing this interview I would be sleep walking through the interview, thinking about getting back to the piece. And that’s what I was saying about relationships and moving on. Until its all the way on the canvas…

 

BK: It’s in your head.

 

CN: Yeah.. That’s why I need music all the time. Music or the rain.. that’s the only time I sleep. I need some other… something to drown it out. I just always have so much going on. I feel like I’m under a clock.

 

 

That’s why Tim Burton is one of my biggest inspirations. Somebody who can take something as dark as death and make it absolutely beautiful.

 

BK: Does all of this self - instilled pressure hinder your quality of life?

 

CN: Totally.

 

I’m so envious of people who look like they don’t have a care in the world. Like, how is that possible? Draw me a fucking treasure map. 

I was the youngest of four brothers, I always had to fight for mine, so to speak. I was always super independent. My parents did very well for themselves and here I am--dropped out of business school after getting in early, supposed to do all of this other shit and suddenly I decide, “I’m going to be an artist”. And they believed in me even then…

 

BK: That’s huge.

 

CN: Yeah, I mean they let me think when I was doing something wrong that I was still right. And they let me run with that. They’re so supportive. There’s certain expectations but not with my art work; the one thing that’s always been for me. I think that’s why I’m so hard on myself. For once, nobody is telling me anything and I’m my own worst enemy in this situation. I’m used to playing a certain level of standards. And I’m always going to do that.

 

BK: That’s interesting because it’s not like you’re aiming for a certain point to level out, i.e. once I achieve this I can calm down with my wife and my picket fence and my dogs and you know.. comfort. It doesn’t sound like you’re ever going do that no matter how much you achieve. You’re just going to keep grinding away at yourself.

 

CN: Well, as long as my body still allows me to, I think, yeah. If I find a woman who is cool with that, that’s when I’ll have my counterpart.

I’m not going to get married just for the sake of getting married.

I’ve been close a couple of times.

Point being is that, when I’m comfortable I’m totally stoked to have kids and name them all Charlie, joking, and move to the countryside of Spain. My wife can have horses and we’ll have sex under candlelight every night. It’ll be dope.

But at the same time I have realistic expectations. And as comfortable as I would be doing that, I would still need to go to Tokyo or the middle of nowhere and just explore. But always come back to her because that’ll be my girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 for more on the artist, visit his IG @charliethekid