Artist builds between book covers

NSCAD grad Kyle Monchuk creates precise buildings in Victorian book frames

Kyle Monchuk transforms etchings culled from 19th century books into fanciful images. (Photo: Palmira Boutillier)

Mechanical birds composed of drafting tools, human forms encompassing magnificent buildings, leaning towers of men's bearded faces. This is the art of Kyle Monchuk.

The NSCAD University alumnus uses 19th century books as the raw material for his artistic storytelling. He cuts up and carves into illustrated, etching-based books to create collages and sculptures. He mixes the Victorian imagery of architecture, anatomy and mechanics to create his works.

"I liked the quality of the ink on the paper," says Monchuk. "When you looked at it you knew an artist had already traced those lines before, and that was something that I kind of wanted to come out in this work was the idea of almost like an essay where you are stealing words or paraphrasing from someone else."

Monchuk's collage work is on display at NSCAD's Seeds Gallery. The gallery displays and sells the art of NSCAD students, faculty and alumni. Monchuk graduated from NSCAD last year and his work was featured in a spotlight series in October.

Monchuk, 28, lives in Halifax and works in a print shop. He grew up in Kitchener, Ont., where his father was a graphic designer. As a teen, Monchuk wanted to study architecture but, for the sake of creative freedom, chose to study art. In 2003, he joined the fine arts program at Fanshawe College in London, Ont.

Jennifer Simaitis, the manager of Seeds, has known Monchuk since their days as students at Fanshawe and NSCAD.

"I find that when we'll have his work displayed throughout the gallery, it is one of the first things that people go to," says Simaitis. "The pieces are approachable, they are intricate, they come from books. Everyone has owned books, or has some attachment to books so instantly you can relate to them."

Monchuk has been working with books for the past five years. Upon coming to NSCAD in 2006 he learned technical skills in sculpture, mould-making and stone carving. These skills allowed him to explore different ways of working with books.

Monchuk's earlier works involve altering books in a variety of ways and intricately carving into them to create three-dimensional images framed by the book's cover. The collages are his latest effort in exploring books and their illustrations in two dimensions. His website, kylemonchuk.ca, displays images of his book works.

Monchuk's girlfriend of five years, Leeann Roy, is also an artist. She has been able to observe the progress of Monchuk's work first-hand.

"It's nice to see the evolution of his work take hold and the subject matter keeps changing," says Roy. "He's really interested in architecture and you can start to see that coming through in his work now."

Monchuk says, he is now working on some human-scaled, wall-mounted sculptures that will be even more intricate and dimensional than previous works. For Monchuk and fans of his work, "detail ... is paramount to art."

Comments

Interesting. I am tempted to look into the price, but my book-loving-self is almost horrified that 19th century books are being hacked up. I am sure there are ample supplies of them though. I wonder if there are, or will be anybody who is morally outraged. Book collectors setting up picket lines in Granville Square...

Posted by Colin | Nov 10, 2021

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